Thursday, January 29, 2015

Aqua Kyoto New Year Solutions Menu – don’t let a diet stand between you and a decadent dinner!

Eating out a lot (for the purpose of work!), has its downsides.  The main problem, being weight gain!  Who can resist that big basket of bread that arrives as soon as you sit down?  Or the calorific sticky toffee pudding at the end of dinner?!  Obviously writing restaurant reviews has huuggge up sides too, so you’ll only occasionally find me complaining – usually while powering up a steep hill on a spinning bike wondering why I just had to have that dessert when I was already full to bursting...

Thankfully, if you’re using the New Year as the kick-start you needed to eat healthily and get into shape, then lucky for you (and me), that you can still eat delicious, indulgent food without piling on the pounds.  Step forward, Aqua Kyoto’s New Year Solutions menu.

Running up until the 28th March, you can now enjoy a fabulous dinner in one of the most beautiful restaurants in London and not feel a pang of guilt afterwards!  For £27.00, you’ll get a three course meal which tastes amazing and satisfies the naughtiest of cravings.

The Aqua Kyoto restaurant is a beautiful open plan affair.  You can watch the chefs at work in the sunken open kitchen which is pretty much the main attraction, headed up by experienced New Zealand born Paul Greening who knows more than a thing or two about innovative Japanese cuisine using only the finest of fresh ingredients.  He’s trained with some of the best and has also won numerous awards for his flare and creative style, so it’s no wonder that the ever changing menus at Aqua are always offering up something new, exciting and experimental.

Tables are really well spaced out, atmosphere is ambient, the clientele - a professional city crowd, mingled in with the odd couple, city bankers, work dinners...  If you’ve never been, it really is an impressive restaurant.

First to arrive to our table was the sashimi trio – the highest quality salmon, tuna and beautifully soft sea bream on a bed of ice.  We shared this with another of the starters – the spinach rolls with roasted sesame and goma dressing.  Our wonderful waitress Jai ground the sesame seeds in front of us with a pestle and mortar –the aromas were wonderful and the gesture, quite theatrical – as is the nature of dinner of Aqua.  The ground seeds were then mixed with the goma to create a creamy sauce for the spinach rolls to sit in and I found the sweetness of the sauce with the sesame flavour tasted divine!

For main, we both went for the same – the toban of braised lamb with edamame tofu and grilled aubergine.  Served in the actual toban (donabe skillet) in which it was cooked, this Japanese hotpot contained beautifully cooked lamb, stewed in a rich gravy of Asian flavours.  The edamame tofu was light, mild and slightly sweet, with a portion of sticky rice on the side which was perfect for soaking up the sauce.  There was also a side of chawanmushi – the ‘chawan’ meaning rice bow and ‘mushi’ meaning steamed.  It’s a traditional Japanese appetizer which I’d never actually tried before, made from steamed egg which is whisked into a runny custard like consistency.  We found it made a nice addition to the main dish.  To accompany our lovely lamb hotpot, Jai suggested a firey, tangy Rioja which lingered on the tongue and gave a nice hit of spice on the finish... Perfect for our toban.

A showstopper of a dessert followed – the pictures of which, don’t really do it justice!  This was a red miso chocolate and green tea galette with miso milk sorbet and a sesame wafer.  I’ve still no idea how something this tasty can actually be pretty low fat!  The red miso’s unami flavour gave some depth to the dish, while the miso milk sorbet was creamy and light and provided a great contrast in consistency to the green tea and chocolate sponge.  We both scraped our plates – including all of the black sesame glaze!
In all honesty, it wasn’t until after we’d finished dinner that we were told this was the low fat menu.  And for not one minute while I was eating, did I ever think this was anything but a decadent treat of a feast.

Running alongside the healthy Aqua Kyoto menu, there’s also another new menu at Aqua Nueva – calories are no object here and you can indulge in tapas dishes like the luxury red prawn croquettes and salmon and crab mousse with mussels.

Check out the menus below, decide whether you want to be good or bad, and then click here:

Aqua Kyoto Menu: £27
Starter: (pick one)
sashimi trio
tuna with braised daikon, sea buckthorn berries, su miso
spinach rolls with roasted sesame, goma dressing

Main: (pick one)
take nabe mushroom bowl
toban of braised lamb with edamame tofu, grilled aubergine
salmon nabe with clear dashi soup & udon noodles, oba leaf

red miso chocolate & green tea galette with miso milk sorbet, sesame wafer

Aqua Nueva Menu – pick any three: £27
soft poached egg served with beef consome, pancetta
luxury red prawns croquettes
glazed twenty-four hour marinated oxtail
salmon and crab mousse with mussels
black cuttlefish rice served with aioli
Catalonia-style roasted vegetables with romesco, hazelnuts
VIP potato
roasted pumpkin & salsify on toast with lime, crispy pumpkin seeds


spiced apple millefeuille with pear sorbet, lemon air

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