Whilst it is fairly commonplace for people to be left speechless on the odd occasion, from me it is almost completely unheard of - until now that is. The Leopard Bar billed itself on the fact that it is a bar like no other and I can testify that this wordsmith was left at a loss from the off. From a fake leopard snarling at us on the side of the room, to a live jazz band, this bar certainly has its share of USPs, including one very exclusive Sushi & Sashimi Experience (£95). But the real question is: was it enough to get my tongue wagging?
Sat within the Rubens Hotel with views of Buckingham Palace, it is a perfect place for someone to enjoy what is nothing less than world-class cocktails. We started with their signature tipple, the Umeshu Tonic. A light, uplifting mixture of plum saké umeshu, lemon and tonic water, we were told that this would be the cocktail to aid us on our journey across Japan’s finest sushi and sashimi. With our cocktail in hand, we took our seats at the bar and watched as the chef began to prepare the first of our twenty-something dishes - all made from scratch before our eyes.
As the dishes began to arrive, we were instructed about the flavours to expect from each morsel. The first stand-out dish was the Otoro Tuna Nigiri. Served in twos, this mouth-watering special was infused with plum, chives, wasabi and mustard accompanied with freshly cut tuna. As we waited for the next courses to arrive we were given takuwan, otherwise known as a pickled daikon radish, which acts as a literal palate-cleanser and wipes away any lingering bacteria.
In between each set of dishes, we were given a sip of Sake. The stand out offering was the Koto Premium Plum Saké Umeshu 25, a rich, sweet, traditional rice wine that went down all too easily. It was also a welcome soother for the spicier dishes, particularly the salmon nigiri, and the sea bass that came slathered with wasabi, ginger, soy sauce and yuzu zest that left that tingling sensation on your tongue with a little citrus flair.
In spite of straining waistbands, as we finally approached the final hurdle of this twenty-one-course marathon, we experienced our favourite yet. Their signature spicy tuna roll may have borne some resemblance to any common or garden piece of sushi but it elicited an entirely new taste experience for me. Served in a cluster of four, the garnish of jewelled pomegranate seeds took take the edge off the sriracha sauce and brought out edible adventure to a beautifully elegant finish.
The DesignMyNight Digest
The Leopard Bar not only boasts a chic atmosphere for those wishing to enjoy some of London’s most fabulous cocktails, but also a sushi experience that could rival even London’s most renowned Japanese eateries. Head over to London Victoria, because The Leopard Bar’s Sushi Experience is not something you'll want to pass by.