Last weekend we tried the express lunch at Chisou – the Japanese restaurant on Barley Mow passage in our beloved Chiswick. It was a complementary meal for the purposes of this review, but could end up being very expensive – as over the course of the meal we decided we definitely wanted to go to Japan! And developed a bit of a passion for luxurious sake! More on that later…
We won’t go quietly
I was a bit nervous around whether Chiswick Boy, six, would have a good time. He’s a joy to be with, and interested in food and new experiences. But it’s a ‘proper’ restaurant, not a colouring book or chips in sight, and I was mainly worried about him getting bored and making too much noise.
But the lovely crew at Chisou put us at our ease straight away.We were welcomed by the charming very hands-on Operations Director David. He won Chiswick Boy’s heart by providing him with spring wired chopsticks, which made it easier for him to use! If we ask Chiswick Boy about the restaurant now, the chopsticks are the things he mentions!
We got there at 1:30pm and were the first customers that lunchtime. So it gave us enough time to get settled (“I’ll sit there next to mummy, no next to daddy, does this cushion fit on my head, ooops I’ve dropped the chopsticks, look I’m under the table – it’s like a castle, can I have some water, I’ll sit next to you now mummy…”).
Express by name…
The great thing for families is that the express lunch does what it says on the tin – it comes quickly. Which as we all know is an absolute blessing when you’re with kids. Once we were told this we were able to take a little bit more time over selecting our food, savouring the choices and lingering over the exotically named dishes.
Chiswick Boy loves rice so we took the director’s recommendation and ordered Iberico Katsudon (Iberico pork cutlet topped with egg).
We also went with two other dishes that he said were the most popular:
- Ebi Fry Bento (Tiger prawn tempura coated in spicy mayonnaise and served with lettuce)
- Chisou Bento (Assorted Japanese bento)
Each dish was a rather good value £9.95
Once we’d ordered we concentrated on enjoying looking at our surroundings. It’s a smallish dining room, and round, which makes for great acoustics. Our table was raised with wooden pillars and we felt private but close enough to stare pleasantly at the other diners as they arrived. People watching is definitely one of the highlights of eating out!
For goodness Sake
The real highlight for me was the sake. In my ignorance I had no idea that sake came in so many varieties – and so many price tags! Don’t worry, there are all price budgets accounted for – although I did see one or two special varieties at £380 a flask!
David said he would bring us a sake which complemented our meal selection. The ensuing cherry blossom sake, chilled, was delicious. It was indeed like drinking pure delicate cherry blossom.
Chiswick Man said that it reminded him of a single malt whisky menu in a Scottish highlands bar. So to keep the whiskey analogy, for me tasting this was like tasting smoky single malt after a lifetime of bells and coke.
Reader, I fell in love with it. I must admit I was too scared to look up the price tag in the menu. I am seriously going to get into sake now, and would go back just to try and taste some more from the menu.
The Doctor Who stage
By this stage my son was using the paper and pens we’d brought to create a story board for the Doctor Who film he's set on making. Completely stuffed and sated, we knew it was time to hit the road and let Chiswick Boy burn up some of that pork and rice at the swings.
Will we go back? Definitely. I'd never have thought of taking Chiswick Boy here but can say that it's a lovely place to take a family. It’s a great place to know about and the perfect spot to get a quick lunch, or even a lingering one.
1-4 Barley Mow Passage
London, W4 4PH