Orizuru has been tarted up.
There is a beautiful counter of reclaimed timber, an open kitchen inviting you to peek in, a tiny sushi bar (which I missed when I arrived), and a cute (if confusing) cubby hole in which to pay one’s bill. Black ropes hang from the ceiling to demarcate a square section of the restaurant (why, I don’t know – perhaps to house non-existent couches??). Behind the counter is an intriguing piece of what I suspect to be reclaimed Japanese commercial visual merchandising – large squares of Japanese kanji alternating with squares of blackboard. Cool.
Cleaning products, buckets, dirty tea-towels, a responsible service of alcohol poster, boxes piled to waist height, a dishwasher tray stacked with tumblers … Jarring against the attempt at a clean modern-Japanese design aesthetic.
And then …
My tempura was soggy. And service was sloppy … but they were understaffed.
Here’s the thing … when you take the plunge and tart up a well established eatery like Orizuru, the rest of the socks need to be pulled up too. The food needs to be spot on, the service needs to be tight, and for heaven’s sake at least some tidiness!
There was nothing wrong with the old Orizuru … the pine tables and paper screens had a 70s fishing wharf authenticity, and progress is a good thing, but loyal customers (like me) want to feel that despite the new surroundings, the place they loved hasn’t been lost.
But sadly, Orizuru is lost.