Sosharu – ‘Social’ dining Japanese style
The Social Company has launched its seventh London restaurant with the opening of Sosharu, a Japanese izakaya-style venue situated within the Turnmill Building on Clerkenwell Road.
Sosharu is a collaboration between Jason Atherton and Executive Head Chef Alex Craciun, who has worked within The Social Company for four years, previously sous chef at Pollen Street Social.
Totalling around 500 sq ft on basement and ground floor level, this venue continues Jason Atherton’s concept of keeping dining and drinking a social event, playing on the word ‘social’ which is pronounced ‘sosharu’ in Japanese.
The new venue was designed by Neri & Hu Design and Research Office, with 3Interiors as the fit out contractors; LSD as the mechanical and electrical consultants; K & M Technical as the mechanical and electrical contractors and Abstruct at the structural consultants.
The restaurant comprises three venues within one space. These are: Sosharu – a Japanese restaurant, occupying the main ground level; Kisetsu – a very intimate “Chef’s Table” venue discreetly tucked in the corner, where guests can enjoy a multi-course set menu prepared by the chef at their counter; and 7 Tales – a 40 cover cocktail bar in the basement that conjures up Tokyo’s subculture.
Kisetsu, meaning season, is an entirely separate dining space with its own kitchen and is accessible via the main entrance to Sosharu. Here, a tasting menu will be served in fine dining style adopting the ‘omakase’ tradition. Loosely translated as ‘trust the chef,’ diners are offered a bespoke daily changing menu chosen by Craciun. Guests will be seated around a kitchen counter with the interiors changing seasonally to coincide with the Japanese name.
Seven Tales cocktail bar is reminiscent of the night-time atmosphere of Tokyo. Headed up by Bar Manager Geoff Robinson, formerly of Happiness Forgets and Experimental Cocktail Club, the drinks menu is inspired by Japanese culture and philosophies, such as Munenori’s Mojito, a twist on a mojito made with cold-brewed matcha, nigori, Cuban rum, tonka bean and absinthe; and Yugen, containing rose vermouth, citric acid, hibiscus salt and sparkling sake.
Erika Lanselle of Neri & Hu said: The building’s tall windows expose the restaurant to passers by – so the concept of our design, inspired by a traditional Japanese timber house, reads clearly from the street.
“Within, after passing through the ‘engawa’ threshold, the timber structure helps to add layers of space and give a more human scale to the tall interiors. Walking down the stairs, one passes through another threshold into a completely different atmosphere, conjuring up Tokyo subculture and the alleys of Shinjuku Golden Gai.
“Handmade noren curtains – a staple feature in Japanese restaurants – were custom-made to our designs and sent from Japan.
“In the basement bar, our graphics team assembled a custom collage of various photos taken in Japan to embody the spirit of Tokyo’s subculture, the style inspired by prominent Japanese artists of the 60s.”
Serving casual yet refined Japanese cuisine using British seasonal ingredients, Craciun’s menu will comprise small dishes, with sections dedicated to different specialities including temaki, hibachi grill, yaki grill, tempura, sashimi and more.
Guests are encouraged to try innovative dishes from each section such as chashu pork belly, udon, king oyster; bream sashimi, shichimi, crispy potato; Scallop, yuzu butter, fresh nori; and sukiyaki wagyu beef, glass noodles and young leeks. Desserts include apple pie, miso butterscotch; and white sesame, chocolate, and miso caramel.
Atherton said: “Sosharu is a complete departure from anything I’ve done before, which makes it that much more exciting for us. This restaurant has been a long time in the making as we wanted to get it right – Alex has dedicated himself to learning everything there is to know about Japanese food in the past couple of years and the result is some incredible cooking. I couldn’t wait to open the doors.”
Craciun relocated to Japan on a research trip, spending the year studying at the Kyoto Culinary School. He also worked at restaurant Kikunoi under Chef Yoshihiro Murata in Kyoto then RyuGin under Seiji Yamamoto in Tokyo. He is now set to bring his culinary experience and expertise of Japanese cuisine to Sosharu.
Sosharu is an exciting addition to Clerkenwell’s thriving community and is set to become a unique dining and drinking destination for London foodies, locals and international commuters alike.
Neri & Hu, are also responsible for the design of Atherton’s Pollen Street Social, where the striking interiors of the 75 cover restaurant will play with notions of Japanese domesticity.
The ground floor will be framed by an abstract timber structure, inspired by traditional minka houses, evoking the intimate experience of sitting in a Japanese home. Downstairs, guests can experience the more urban side of Japan in basement bar Seven Tales, where Tokyo’s subculture is reflected through walls plastered with a bespoke wallpaper depicting Japan’s golden age movements in the early sixties.
Offering an unparalleled service in high-end interior fit outs, 3 Interiors can design an elegant solution to any interior or refurbishment project, no matter what the size. Established in January 2010, 3 Interiors prides itself on delivering a high end product for their clients along with the timescales and budgets being kept.
Premier Hospitality spoke to Ian Robinson, at 3 Interiors, to ask a few questions on the company and its involvement with Sosharu. Ian said:
“At 3 Interiors we always take the time to build lasting relationships with clients and it is a testament to the passion we have for our work that they want to forge that relationship with us. We have worked in various restaurants owned by Jason Atherton Group, namely, Social Eating House, City Social, Little Social and Social Wine and Tapas.
“Working on Soharu, we were employed by the client as the main contractor. This contract was important to us as we see the JA Group as one of our more valued clients.”