I was watching some of the Japan Rugby World Cup the other weekend, so I’d built up an appetite for some Asian-inspired nibbles.
With the cold dark winter nights drawing in, one of my favourite cosy spots to head for Japanese in the city is The Ned.
The sprawling venue next to Bank tube station has eight restaurants, but a lot of people I know rate the Japanese-inspired restaurant, Kaia, above the rest.
The eatery serves up a salivating spread of sushi and it has recently released its new autumnal menu, with everything from crispy prawns to plum soy pork belly to tempt guests.
I checked in there on a Tuesday night, with the jazz band in full swing and a great atmosphere brewing.
Kaia has counter seating, a long bar and small tables, which are little quieter.
We took a seat next to the open kitchen area, so we could catch a glimpse of the chefs in action.
To kick things off, we went for a glass of sake. The friendly host recommended a glass of the Cherry Bouquet which is deliciously clean with strong notes of pear.
The new menu features a great selection of things which made it tricky to choose.
We were told some of the best sellers include the Japanese fried chicken and the Hawaiian chicken from the robata grill.
But in the mood for something lighter, my friend is also a pescatarian, we decided to dip into the other options.
While we scouted through the options, we nibbled on a big bowl of edamame beans dressed in a chilli sauce.
After a bit of deliberation, we went for quite an eclectic mix, with an Ahi Tuna poke bowl, bowl of seaweed, spicy tuna rolls, some miso glazed aubergine and a plate of Eryngii mushroom.
I also ordered some of the freshwater eel sashimi.
Kaia has a great atmosphere and the candlelight flickered as the main lights dipped and the jazz band continued to play.
The poke bowls are great and come highly recommended. They are generously sized and ours came with a rose-shaped slab of avocado, tuna and some moreish sticky rice.
The seaweed was another of my favourite dishes, with a delicious mound of green well-seasoned in a sesame dressing.
Aubergine fans will also love this dish on the menu, with hunks perfectly cooked on the grill with a smokey taste.
And if you’ve never tried eel, I encourage you to give it a whirl at Kaia. It is sweet, juicy and a light filler.
If you have room for dessert, the artfully-presented matcha cheesecake comes recommended. It boasts a good thick biscuit base, with a creamy yet light topping.
We left Kaia in high spirits and bumped into some more people who were raving about the place.
Kanpai to that!
Kaia is located at 27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ
To book a table visit www.thened.com or call + 44 (0)20 3828 2000