The Handbook
The Handbook

Butterflies and Goldfish

By | 18th March 2010

It’s Japanning in Notting Hill this month with the launch of itsu and Hampstead’s modern Chinese Goldfish has expanded into a brand new supersize aquarium.

Our favourite itsu chain has just opened for business in fashionable Notting Hill and with 1950’s chandeliers, vintage Las Vegas neon lights, enlarged film posters and quotes by Muhammad Ali, Portobello regulars will be floating on air like butterflies.

Julian Metcalf’s largest venue to date features a ground floor restaurant with three conveyor belts and capacity for 92 diners. Super healthy Asian influenced dishes include Spicy Tuna X-Ray Roll with line-caught yellow fin tuna, Langoustine Gyoza in Dynamite Broth – home made langoustine dumplings, shitake & vegetables with gluten free vermicelli noodles and Soft Shell Crab Maki Rolls – whole soft shelled crab cooked tempura style wrapped in steamed rice & nori with avocado, cucumber & tobiko (that’s flying fish roe to you and me). There’s even an onsite shop selling daytime take-away snacks ranging from dynamite noodles, sushi and sashimi to salads, soups and zero fat frozen yoghurt made fresh on the premises throughout the day.

Upstairs is another first – the itsu Butterfly Bar, serving a great range of sake plus delicious Oriental inspired cocktails, wines and champagnes in suitably dramatic surroundings. Vibrant interiors include a giant ornate birdcage, giant butterfly motifs, candy striped astroturf and a profusion of large silver disco balls suspended from the ceiling. Signature cocktails include the Bell’itsu – champagne, lychee puree & crème de cassis and perfectly crafted classics of Margaritas and Raspberry Mojitos jostle for pole position.

In keeping with the meaning of the Japanese word ‘itsu’ – that’s ‘whenever’ if your grasp of the lingo only extends to ‘konnichiwa’ and ‘Hello Kitty’ – itsu aims to cater for all eventualities from a take-away lunch to a chi-chi evening dining venue. And while a local delivery service will soon be available, you can’t beat a visit for the full-on experience.

Making a splash in Hampstead, Geoff Leong Goldfish restaurant has doubled in size and fans of its trademark avant-garde Chinese fusion cuisine can now enjoy a zenned-out split-level space accommodating 120 diners – doubling the size of a restaurant known for its long queues and wait lists.

Contemporary muted black bamboo and organic hues provide an understated backdrop where food takes centre stage. The menu is studded with inspired delicacies including Avocado Dressed Wasabi Prawns with Caviar, Steamed Sea Bass with Minced Ginger & Spring Onion and perhaps the most famous – head chef Kevin Chow’s award-winning Mocha Ribs with Champagne marinade and coating of Varlhona dark chocolate and coffee for intensity and depth. Sold!

Itsu, 100 Notting Hill Gate, W11, 0207 229 4016,
Goldfish, 82 Hampstead High Street, NW3, 020 7794 6666,