In September of 2021, I started what I know to have been a worthwhile journey. I was after one of the eight coveted seats at Kuriso Omakase.
Kuriso Omakase is an omakase sushi experience in London’s Brixton neighborhood, run by Chris Restrepo, a Tokyo trained, UK raised chef with proud Thai and Colombian roots, who enjoys cult like fame for his exclusive sushi den.
It took me 6 months to get in there and it was worth it. Despite the super crazy hype, the extra sensory meal actually exceeded expectation. I really can’t stop thinking about it today.
In many ways it’s an omakase experience you’d dream of savoring in Japan, but in other ways it’s an irreverent take on omakase which would piss off the establishment in Japan, in an amusing “Brixton” way.
It’s fair to say Chris isn’t buttoned up like most of the world’s greatest sushi chefs, but his simply delectable nigiri and introductory plates certainly are. The temaki to finish, there just aren’t words, man!
He takes liberties with the £125 (circa $160) meal you wouldn’t find elsewhere and I’m really glad he does. It was far more fun than I expected. I love omakase in Japan, but I always feel hesitant to engage. Not here.
The meal kicked off the senses immediately with a white and brown crab meat croquette in a Thai nam jim sauce. A seriously f**king impressive ode to the Thai side, for sure. Jay Rayner put that on notice a while back, and I’m so glad I got to try it.
Getting A Reservation: Start Now
Circa 6 months ago, I peeled away from my family one evening to watch an Instagram live, where Kuriso Omakase announced the moment they’d hit send on the next slots for reservation. As always, within a matter of seconds, they’re gone.
I missed out at first, but set notifications on Amex owned Resy, to look for scraps. I lucked out, for a table two months away. But then Omicron, winter and all the chaos of the world meant that dinner wouldn’t end up happening.
In its place, I was offered a few dates for spring and quickly took the first opportunity.
Everyone at the table had similar levels of excitement for securing a reservation. If anything, I thought others had worked even harder. I’m not usually one who will even pick up the phone to make a reservation, but with Japan closed and my desire for great omakase greater than ever, I set a goal to get in here.
If you’d like to secure a reservation at Kurisu Omakase, a follow on their Instagram and an up to date Resy app is your best bet. Chris releases tables in spurts and if you want to enjoy this rare treat, start now.
Chris talks more than chefs I’ve experienced at other omakase meals in New York or Japan. That’s a good thing, because the man is hilarious. Just ask for some of his wild “home-o-kase” stories. They were almost as entertaining as the food.
At first, I was surprised to see there was no ginger or excess soy to be found at any of the place settings. Adding soy sauce is a no-no in omakase etiquette, but there’s oddly usually some around anyway. Not here, and that’s good.
There’s also genuine modesty here. Chris serves out of what was once his parents restaurant, without any of the blonde wood features and minimalist design. People walk by on the street in plain view, almost all of which crane necks for a peek.
The first courses, a lean tuna with shiso and beautiful accompaniments and the light and dark crab meat croquette were the perfect way to start. A glimpse of personality and a hefty waft of skill and aromatics. The uni risotto – omg.
Sorry for the millennial speak, but it really captures the thoughts.
A welcomed surprise was that the nigiri portion of the meal began with local produce. Local, British fish from streams, seas and rivers was a delight to experience and gave an authenticity and terroir to this place which not many other sushi dens can compete with.
Once the barrage of British produce was through, the omakase staples like salmon belly, Hokkaido scallops, bream, hamachi and various shades of tuna made their way. The salmon was lightly blowtorched with a truffle and mustard garnish that rocked my tasted buds like a Foo Fighters concert after lockdown. On speed.
Then the Hokkaido scallop. Wow, just wow. I’ve long heard people use phrases like you can really “taste the sea”, but in many previous instances, my speech bubble said “um, maybe a bit too much?”, but this was that feeling capsuled to perfection.
The precision in preparing the scallop created the most incredibly inviting texture, with a smoothness and luxury that I haven’t felt in a long time. Super clean.
The rockstars of toro, o-toro and chu-toro were expectedly wonderful, with the o-toro and caviar surprising me as the favorite. The finish was like one of the world’s greatest red wines, where it just keeps evolving and satisfying for a minute plus. Few things in life make you pause and appreciate the moment quite like this.
And then, this Chris lead omakase just hit “tear the roof off” levels — shoutout Redman and Method Man — with the toro temaki finisher. The stunning hand roll was expertly crafted with a few slaps of the seaweed over charcoal flame, some herbs thrown into the mix and just the most mouth watering toro.
Kurisu Omakase Is A London Must
In his wonderfully irreverent style, the final sake pairing was a shot of sweet pear sake and he insisted it be shot. It’s this playful take on an otherwise age old tradition that makes this so much more than just “another” great omakase. This may be a Japanese tradition, but Chris made it its own Brixton thing, while preserving all the best.
Hit up @kurisuomakase on Instagram and hope for the best. You’ve got competition from me for that next set of reservations, I can promise you that. I also hear there’s a CBD omakase coming to Soho. Intriguing.