There is no shortage of both good and not so good restaurant options in Soho. Thus, it is great when we stumble upon one that truly stands out from the throng and offers flavours and inventive dishes that make it truly memorable - one such restaurant is Dai Chi - where not only the food but the service is outstanding. Joshua Owens-Baigler and Amar Takhar - the founders of cult Italo-Japanese Dalston restaurant Angelina - are the inspiration behind this newly launched Japanese-inspired kushikatsu restaurant.
Dai Chi brings Osaka’s famous kushikatsu dining culture (kushi = skewer, katsu = deep-fried) to London for the first time, with a menu centred around fried skewers of the freshest meat, fish and vegetables. Offering an interpretation of the Japanese speciality, Dai Chi's dishes are centred around precisely fried, panko-breadcrumbed skewers that elevate seemingly simple foods to new levels.
The intimate 28-cover restaurant, located on Soho’s D’Arblay Street, features elegant pared-back interiors mixing Japanese minimalism with Italian marble accents, softened by dried floral arrangements. The focal point of the restaurant, a vinyl record player, brings a curated yet unobtrusive soundtrack to the space and the 6-seater counter reflects the dining experience at quintessential kushikatsu restaurants. For a more intimate option, tucked away behind the bar is an opulent gathering space for private dining for up to twelve people.
The set menu is prepared omakase style - which means leaving the culinary options up to the chef to select the dishes for your evening. This of course, is a chance for the chef to show-off his culinary skills and use the freshest and most sustainable ingredients available. The set menu consists of super fresh crudo dishes to start, followed by three courses of the kushikatsu - each exploring the art of deep frying vegetables, fish and meat on traditional kushi skewers. Each skewer is topped with the addition of Dai Chi’s unique, modern Japanese flavours to heighten the experience, from Carabineiro red prawns with lardo di colonnata to Carrot, sesame & daikon, replacing the usual simple dipping sauce found in Japan.
The fried skewers are tempered with the likes of unlimited palate-cleansing house tsukemono pickles dressed with fiery chilli oil and sesame honey, a salad of seasonal fresh vegetables and a dessert.
Drinks are headed up by Haruka Hisata, JSA sake and wine sommelier, who has curated at Dai Chi a unique international wine list and extensive sake offering to be paired with kushikatsu. The drinks-led offering mixes sake and wines from across the globe for a playful and elegant pairing that recalls kushikatsu’s origins in Osakan bars, from floral Barbaresco to clear, smooth Junmai sake.
Hidden amongst the plentiful restaurants in and around Soho, Dai Chi is our new favourite go-to!
The six-course set menu is priced at £38 and is payable in advance, with additional skewers available to add on for £4. The drinks pairing is priced at £35.
16A D'Arblay Street, W1F