Japanese hotspot Kyubi’s relocation to the third floor of The Arts Club will cater to growing demand for chef Soon Li Ong’s delicious output. Words by Reyhaan Day.

 

 

The counter at the pre-renovation Kyubi was one of the choice lunch spots at The Arts Club.

Here chef Soon Li Ong and his team deftly prepared delicious Japanese-inspired plates.

These seats offered a great view of the kitchen. But they also outweighed the number of tables.

“The old Kyubi had its own iconic identity; and although it was very small, a lot of members liked its intimacy.

“It was secretive and cosy,” says director of operations Sayaka Watanabe.

“But there was a demand for more tables. People wanted to enjoy Kyubi in groups, or in a large party.”

 

New look Kyub

Now, Kyubi has reopened on the club’s third floor.

The new restaurant still offers counter seating, but now for just eight diners.

And, the new layout offers a much larger space.

“Originally, this floor was seven hotel rooms. The new Kyubi is almost double the size of what it was.”

 

 

The decor has also been updated, with help from acclaimed design agency Joyce Wang Studio, whose work also includes Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and Equinox St James’s.

The designers were asked to come up with ideas based on the era when the club was founded in 1863.

“We said that we wanted to keep the identity – the DNA – but other than the logo and the name, scrap everything. Start from scratch.”

Interior details include blue and white ceramic sake barrels behind the bar, which were used in Japan before cedar wood barrels.

There are also custom-made sake cups and hi-tech fridges to display and store sake.

Plus, there’s a chandelier inspired by Japanese graphics, wallpaper influenced by iconic Japanese prints and cushions made by Kyoto company Hosoo.

“It’s all about the little details,” says Watanabe.

 

“We want this to be more relaxed. We want members to use it with their friends and families as well as for business meetings.”

More choice on the menu

Chef Li was insistent that the original menu didn’t change.

Instead, he introduced additional dishes.

“He wants to do things that are done in Japan but haven’t been seen in London. He makes the dishes delicious to the eyes as well as to the palate,” she said.

In terms of drinks, the new Kyubi is putting the spotlight on sake.

“I had this idea to serve a draught, unpasteurised sake through a beer tap. It creates an interest in at least trying sake.”

Now that the new iteration of Kyubi is in full swing, it is beginning to play host to various events.

“This month we are celebrating Tsukimi: we have the week of September 9 as a moon-viewing celebration week.

We’re now also open for Sunday brunch. It’s an opportunity for members to bring their children and enjoy Kyubi as a family.”

 

Visit the Kyubi website to find out more about the restaurant at 40 Dover Street.

 

Discover similar stories in the Food & Drink section of our website

You may like to read more about the make-over at Kyubi in Fine Japanese Dining.

Or find out what inspires top female chefs in Tales from the Kitchen.