Ramusake is the creation of three of the biggest the names in London’s nightclubs and restaurant scene, so it’s little wonder it’s caused a stir. Jemima Boost visits Ramusake, South Kensington’s coolest new members’ club
Members-only restaurant and South Kensington’s latest haunt Ramusake is the brainchild of a London power trio: Piers Adams and David Phelps of Whisky Mist, Mahiki and Bodo’s Schloss and chef du jour Scott Hallsworth of ex-Nobu and present Kurobuta fame. As a result Ramusake was the place to be before it even opened, during the soft launch, Princess Beatrice, Cressida Bonas and friends were papped sashaying through the doors for a wasabi-spiced cocktail.
Because of all this, and my love of Japanese food, I was particularly looking forward to checking out Ramusake, and as I stepped into the South Kensington den (of iniquity) one particularly dark and rainy night last week it all felt very exciting.
A handsome host politely hung my soggy umbrella and called down to the restaurant to say we’d arrived. I shook off the rain drops, fluffed up my hair, signed the visitors book and tried not to slip as we walked down into the trendy New York-esque dining room where a dimly lit, sleek sight awaited.
Ramusake’s interiors take the lead from Japan’s low-key izakayas – roughly defined as bars that serve food – and designer Louise White of W Design Studio London has added a bit of urban cool, creating a space that is part NYC, part Shoreditch and a splash of Kensington.
It’s cosy, without being overcrowded and not so dark that you can’t see your dining partner. Overhead, jazzy tracks from The Whitest Boy Alive’ play, but not too loud that you have shout to be heard.
Waitresses wear double denim and headscarves, – very Shoreditch – while the waiters swoop round dressed all in black. And it’s not just the employees that look good. As you’d expect from a nightspot in Kensington, the clientele is sophisticated and stylish – whatever their age. There’s a long table of fashionable twenty-something girls celebrating a birthday with cocktails; a couple of extremely well-dressed silver foxes with their designed-clothed wives; Henry Conway holding court with a booth full of city boys and two Russian girls picking slowly at a bowl of edamame beans. The atmosphere is lively and fun.
Scott Hallsworth’s menu demonstrates exactly why he is the chef everyone is talking about, and why A-listers like Adele frequent his restaurants. His Japanese specialities are so much more interesting than maki rolls and tuna sashimi, although both do feature. But I’d sidestep them and instead delve into the likes of beef fillet tataki with onion ponzu and garlic crisps (although be warned the garlic is very garlicky and stayed with me all the following day), yellow tail sashimi with kizami wasabi salsa that made me feel like I was on a beach in Asia, and the tea-smoked lamb chops with spicy Korean miso, smokey and perfectly cooked.
The waiters recommend you order three to four dishes per person and share. Erring on the side of caution we went for four each, this was greedy, the portion sizes were generous and the dishes came out quickly, so before long we were pretty full. Luckily there is no time limit on the tables and Ramusake goes on serving food until late, so we could while away the evening picking languidly. Which was just as well, as despite our food arriving to the table quick sharp, the bar service wasn’t quite so efficient.
It was only after about 15 minutes of waiting that we reminded the waiter about our Shisho Daquiris which would have been perfect for washing down the amazing sweet potato and Soba-Ko fries we started with, had they arrived in time. Similarly, when we moved onto a lovely crisp white wine (excellently recommended by the waitress) our order seemed to get lost somewhere between the till and Henry Conway’s table.
Still at least it meant we had time for dessert while we waited – three deliciously zingy mochi in matcha, coconut and yuzu flavour. And I’m sure the slow service is just teething problems, once Ramusake gets into its stride they will be ironed out, and if Piers, David and Scott’s other projects are anything to go by the it’s sure to be at quite a pace.
Price: £180 for two including cocktails and wine
Membership is £250 per year and includes complimentary entry after 11pm and first pick of table bookings. Call 0207 842 8518 for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
92B Old Brompton Rd, London, SW7 5LR; ramusake.com