Koyn: MiMi Mei Fair founder Samyukta Nair to launch first Japanese-inspired restaurant

·3-min read
Turning Japanese: the new restaurant marks a new direction for LSL Capital (Press handout)
Turning Japanese: the new restaurant marks a new direction for LSL Capital (Press handout)

In what appears to a busy year for her, MiMi Mei Fair founder Samyukta Nair has announced she is to open Koyn, a new upmarket izakaya — or what’s sometimes loosely translated as a “Japanese pub”, where drinks are combined with a tapas-style menu. Given, though, Nair’s track record of high-end fine dining and Koyn’s Mayfair location, it’s expected any resemblance to a pub will be slight.

The restaurateur, who at the start of this year announced she was opening Mediterranean bistro Socca with celebrated chef Claude Bosi — set to launch late summer — will make her first foray into Japanese cooking with Koyn, which opens on Grosvenor Square on September 9 in a building that, variously, has housed the American Embassy and the Canadian High Commission.

The two-floor opening, co-designed with Fabled Studios, will be split into a ground floor, green-coloured room dubbed midori, and what’s being called a “charred room”, which will sit below ground. This will be the magma room. As an entity, the restaurant is said to be inspired by Mount Fuji; as the name suggests, the basement floor represents an active volcano, while the midori room is representative of the vegetation that endures on the volcano’s snowy peak.

Leading the kitchen will be executive chef Rhys Cattermoul, who is perhaps best known for his a long stint as head chef at Nobu Berkeley Street. Cattermoul’s menu will use locally-sourced produce for its famous cuisine, and Koyn will serve the likes of red mullet tempura with yuzu kosho tosazu and homemade kombu salt, and steamed clams with cordycep mushroom.

Samyukta Nair (Press handout)
Samyukta Nair (Press handout)

More broadly, the food will tie into its surroundings; in the brighter midori room will be a sushi bar — tempura prawns and wagyu beef are a given — while in the downstairs magma room, a robata grill will burn. Dishes here will include the likes of hojicha-smoked lamb marinated with spicy kuromame miso, and there’ll be wagyu again, though this time cooked and served on a hot stone with the restaurant’s own yakiniku sauce.

Of the launch, Nair told the Standard: “I’ve been fortunate to have been introduced to Japan and its culture through my parents, who share a mutual love for its food and design. At Koyn, I am very excited to be working with Rhys to bring a craft led culinary perspective that references the nature-spirited roots and duality of the eternally mysterious Mount Fuji.

“The cosmos of Koyn hold deep roots in an intricately entwined living, breathing tapestry of old traditions alongside new innovations with an appreciation for a harmonic and balanced way of life — a perspective I have long dreamt of bringing to a contemporary izakaya in London.”

The venture is the latest for Nair and her restaurant group LSL Capital, which she co-founded with her father Dinesh. Besides MiMi Mei Fair and Socca, LSL counts high-end Indian restaurants Bombay Bustle and Jamavar among its number. All are known for their striking design.

Rhys Cattermoul (Press handout)
Rhys Cattermoul (Press handout)

In a statement, Samyukta Nair added of the new project: “I have long admired Japan for its understated elegance, expertly-made craft and philosophy that balances modernity with tradition. While working with Rhys on this project I’ve been able to get a deeper understanding of Japanese culture through our food journey and this is something we want to pass onto our patrons at LSL Capital’s fifth Mayfair venture.”

Koyn will open at 38 Grosvenor Street, W1, on September 9. For more information, visit lslcapital.com

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