photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
It’s hard to imagine a restaurant like Kurisu Omakase existing in any other city than London. Perhaps even in any other place but Brixton. The unique 17-course sushi omakase experience mixes Japanese cooking with Thai-Colombian heritage, genuine brilliance, and inimitable made-in-Brixton charm. Uncommon combinations that, together, make a restaurant that represents the best of London.
Your evening will be hosted by Chris Restrepo, whose mum Suwannee owns Ichiban Sushi, the casual neighbourhood restaurant in which Kurisu Omakase is held. It’s a little, mahogany-clad room facing the pavement with an eight-person counter taking up 75% of the space. The counter, wooden and knee-high, is lovingly worn in, like something Gandalf has shifted at Hobbiton’s flea market. Restrepo will likely spend much of your meal hunched over this counter. Blowtorch or shining blade in hand, preparing not just your next wondrous course but also for his imminent sciatica.
All the while this is happening, there are two things going on. The first is Suwannee pottering around in that quiet but seismic way only true matriarchs being followed by their chihuahua can do. The second is that strangers around the counter are locking eyes, completely enthralled. You’ll be amazed at what you’re tasting at Kurisu Omakase, but also what you’re sharing as an experience. There’s otoro THC (not that THC, but truffle, hanaho flower, and caviar); there’s 18-times-scored scallop from Hokkaido topped with yuzu juice; there’s theatrically smoked trout finished with lime zest from Sainsbury’s around the corner.
Like all omakase experiences there’s a reverence to Kurisu Omakase. You’re eight people, an elbow’s length away from each other, watching a man expertly sear red mullet over coals. The room can’t help but be a little in awe. Restrepo appreciates this. Levity is his language and he isn’t just one of your Attenborough-lite narrator chefs, though he can tell you the lineage of the Canadian tuna you’re eating, as well as stories about family holidays to Japan and of juicy dinners sealed by NDA.
Of course, omakase meals don’t come cheap. And Kurisu is no different. It’s around £150 for 17 courses and a handful of Restrepo one-liners to retell down the pub. Given the world and numbers of omakase restaurants, this is actually fairly reasonable, but that doesn’t mean Kurisu Omakase is anything other than a special occasion restaurant. Especially as getting a reservation here makes a Glastonbury ticket feel like a copy of the Evening Standard. We highly recommend you bash that waitlist or call on the day, just in case someone’s dropped out. In a city where cost is everything, Kurisu Omakase is expensive. But there’s also no doubt that this restaurant is doing something priceless.
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The multi-course bonanza at Kurisu Omakase is something that you’ll never want to end. It begins with unexpected masterstrokes like confit uni butter risotto or luxurious crab curry croquette. Of course, these delicious preambles lead up to the sushi round. Trout and hamachi are theatrically smoked and all manner of fish is carefully cooked over Japanese charcoal. Each one, more often than not, more delicious than the last. Restrepo purposely saves the best until last, with charcoal-seared otoro topped with anaho caviar and ludicrous, almost liquid, 18-times-sliced scallop—the kind of bites you’ll tell your non-existent grandchildren about.