Published on September 30th, 2015 | by Sophia Longhi0
Geisha at Ramusake, South Kensington
Summary: A bizarre concept but don't knock it until you've tried it: it absolutely works
Like me, have you arrived late to the party? Did you assume that ‘festive dining’ was reserved for the month of December only, and involved paper crowns, pulling crackers and some dry renditions of Paxo stuffing balls? Well, like me, you’d be wrong.
Festive dining is something that is taking the social sphere by storm. La Villa Romana and Brasserie des Arts in Saint Tropez, Sass Café in Monaco and Mangeoire in Courchevel all have been successful at introducing the concept, which allows customers to eat, drink, dance, chat and party with their friends in the same venue all night.
Of all places in London, festive dining has arrived in sophisticated South Kensington in the form of Geisha at Ramusake. Dynamic duo of the nightlife world, Piers Adam and Marc Burton, have teamed up to transform the fine-dining Japanese restaurant into a vibrant Tokyo nightspot, where top-notch izayake Japanese food and sake-led cocktails are served alongside cool DJs and flamboyant performers, all within high-spirited surroundings.
Well, as you might imagine, I had no idea what to expect. And that’s a good place to start: leave your expectations at the door. Festive dining starts at 21:30, and so when we arrive at the restaurant, it’s already alive with atmosphere; music playing, big tables of friends talking animatedly and trays upon trays of cocktails being delivered swiftly to tables by attractive hosts dressed up as geishas. First thoughts? This is going to be fun.
The restaurant itself is chic, sleek and stylish with an air of West London glamour, but don’t be fooled by its polish: smiling staff, relaxed guests and a jovial mood ensures that plastic smiles and pretentiousness just isn’t their thing here. We are warmly welcomed and offered sake cocktails to start and we nibble on flamed edamame with sake, lemon, butter and Maldon salt while we peruse the menu.
We’re free and easy, so go for a recommended selection: salmon sashimi kimchee salad with avocado and ikura; spicy tuna tartar with crunchy saffron rice; nasu dengaku, sticky miso grilled aubergine with candied walnuts; baby chicken grilled with barley miso and jalapeño and an incredible selection of sushi.
While the raw fish is flavoursome, light and clean-tasting, the stand-out dishes for me are the aubergine and the chicken. The aubergine is probably something I would have missed out on if I had ordered myself. Juicy, sticky and rich, it tastes absolutely indulgent. The chicken is from the Robata BBQ selection and is full of smoky barbecue flavour, without being dry or smothered in additional spice and sauce. Very simply delicious. And of course – the sushi. The brilliant colours of the selection look dazzling and it is presented beautifully on a long tile – what a treat. My personal favourite is the king crab California maki with spicy mayo: the sweet, succulent crabmeat is showcased perfectly in the roll and the mayo just finishes it off superbly.
As elegant and refined as the food is, the dining experience is certainly not – and it’s fabulous. As we start our second dish, ‘Sweet Caroline’ suddenly blasts through the speakers, lights begin to flash, and before we know it, a train of Kabuki performers begin to make their way through the restaurant, pulling diners up to dance (happily participating ones, of course) and giving out tiny porcelain geishas, which turn out to be shots. It also happens to be someone’s birthday (what a great place to have a birthday) and countless trips to their table ensue, with a parade of performers carrying trays of flaming drinks each time.
By midnight, the main tables are cleared away and the restaurant becomes a dancefloor, with performers taking centre stage, wowing the crowd with their wild executions of classic Japanese entertainment. Dancing and drumming transforms the restaurant into an energy-packed nightclub, with diners now up with the performers and partying like rockstars. This really is what letting your hair down looks like.
Geisha at Ramusake provides a great experience of festive dining. It seems like a bizarre concept – and it is – I mean, who wants to be eating a nice meal with a topless man in a giant Kabuki mask dancing on the table next to you? But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it: it absolutely works. It’s entertaining and most importantly, it’s fun whilst maintaining a level of elegance, with excellent food and superb cocktails. This is what Friday and Saturday nights are made of; I would be disappointed if I was eating a nice meal at the weekend and a topless man in a giant Kabuki mask wasn’t dancing on the table next to me.
Geisha at Ramusake festive dining experience takes place every Friday and Saturday evening from 9pm
Geisha @ Ramusake, 92B Old Brompton Rd, SW7 3LQShare This Post