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Café Kaizen review
September 23, 2014
Does the cultural wisdom ‘You can’t be all things to all people’ hold true? Café Kaizen certainly makes an impressive attempt at disproving this. Opening at 3pm till late, it’s a juice bar, it’s a reflective work space, it’s a café, it’s a marketplace, it’s an art exhibition venue and, in the evening, it becomes a bar and a nightclub.
The founders certainly have experience in the industry along with excellent track records: Dan Kapp has worked at top venues including Movida, Aura and Le Baron London whilst Jin Nilsson is a former Marketing Director at Whisky Mist.
The décor mixes New York style industrial cool with oriental Zen-style relaxation. ‘Kaizen’ actually means ‘good change’ in Japanese, so customers should expect an evolving change of style for their furniture, artwork and mood.
The centrepiece is a spectacular, giant cherry blossom in the middle of their main room. However, other aspects work less well, such a scantily dressed mannequin dangling from the ceiling or the excessive prefabricated timber panelling in their bathrooms. However it would be churlish to not appreciate the overall creative and relaxed vibe. Clearly they are aiming for the fashionable crowd minus the pompous attitudes, although this may not be wholly achieved; first inspection of their drinks menu, will leave you awestruck at the staggering number of zeros that appear on the page – they do like to quote their spirit prices by the bottle. Closer inspection however reveals a Mayfair venue without the Mayfair prices: beers are £4 and cocktails are £8.88 (the number eight sounds like the word prosperity in Chinese).
The signature cocktail the Kami Kaizen is a simple but irresistible blend of vodka, yuzu juice and Cointreau. Yuzu is an East Asian citrus fruit that has made its way onto many hip restaurant menus of late. We also sampled the Chablis Domaine Vauroux which has such crisp and clean mineral notes and hints of citrus that goes fantastically well with the raw fish offered on their food menu.
Café Kaizen offers light snacks rather than restaurant style meal: dim sum, sashimi and gluten free cakes. The dim sum is a work in progress; we were presented with damp looking wontons in a dim sum basket. On the other hand, the sashimi was utterly divine, raw fish is all about the sourcing and the kitchen has clearly researched well to source the best possible produce.
Their music policy is meant to be an eclectic mixture depending on the time of the day. Mid-evening on a Friday, the music was zen-like and in keeping with the venue’s vibe.
In the overcrowded central London venue scene, Café Kaizen looks a stayer with its unique modern day multi-purpose concept and the wealth of experience from their founders who clearly know what the London market place is missing.