Whether you’re an Islington local, a fan of all things Japanese, or just like to treat yourself to a fancy meal now and then, chances are you’ve heard of Hot Stone. And if you haven’t? Get ready for a treat… Located on the bustling Chapel Market, this tiny plot counts a plethora of Asian spots like The Little Viet Kitchen, Korean newbie Ogam and – my fiancé’s personal takeaway favourite – Angel Curry Centre as its neighbours. Setting itself apart from the competition, Hot Stone’s USP puts DIY cooking at the forefront, and we headed down to see if the restaurant lived up to its namesake.
Hot Stone looks quiet from the outside, but once you're in, it’s a bustling space thanks to its busy open bar and compact dining area. Exposed lightbulbs encased in bronze were softened by floral décor as couples were joined by groups and friends. But enough about the vibey atmosphere, we’re here for the food.
Drawn in by the luxurious seafood and wagyu tasting menu (£110 per person) with wine and sake pairings (£65 per person), it’s certainly not a cheap night out. But we were more than ready for the eye-watering affair that centres on premium meats and seafood which sizzle at your table. Two glasses of Champagne set the boujee tone, before a shot glass layered with edamame purée, caviar and truffle was joined by a bowl of scallops tossed in a stunningly fresh miso sauce that had our mouths watering.
Next up, was a sashimi bento box and bottle of sake which gave floral, peachy notes. Assorted with two kinds of tuna, chunky scallops and yellowtail so tender that it almost disintegrated on the tongue, this was the kind of box that makes me want to forget I ever laid eyes on Itsu. Led by our charming waiter, it was then onto seared sashimi. The first – salmon – was topped with a generous shaving of white truffle and smothered in a yuzu miso sauce that was sweet yet nutty. Chef’s kiss. Meanwhile, rounded off with a glass of yellow wine, seared butterfish was with a tangy jalapeño sauce; just a melt-in-the-mouth as its twin.
You’re probably wondering about the hot stone, right? The kitchen know what they’re doing here, keeping us on our toes with gorgeous sashimi, sushi and scallops before the star of the show enters the ring. We watched as the waiter prepped the table to arrange strips of A5 Sirloin Japanese Kagoshima wagyu, meaty Kobe beef and 4 huge scallops. With so many premium cuts to perfect, we should have been nervous with the but a glass of pinot noir was on hand to settle the nerves. Juicy and lingering, it was the perfect accompaniment to the sizzling savoury spread before a matcha cheesecake with plum wine sweetened our evening.
The DesignMyNight Digest
It’s not every day that you splash out hundreds of pounds on a date night dinner, but if are going to? You’ll want to make sure that it’s worth every. single. penny. Sure, Hot Stone has a la carte options, but for a true taste of Japan, their upscale tasting menu should firmly be on your radar. Bringing all the class and service you'd expect, but without the pomp, this is a stunning menu that harks to East Asia with an authentic touch.
💰 The damage: £350 for the tasting menu and drinks pairings for two.
📍 The location: Chapel Market, Islington.
👌 Perfect for: a luxury meal without the stuffiness.
⭐ Need to know: go a la carte if you want a taste without the price tag.