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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Senkai, Mayfair (Now HAWKSMOOR AIR STREET)

The first section of a long snaking room, otherwise given over to Japanese-influenced dining, is allocated to Senkai’s lounge bar. I'm thinking 'Zen Week at Ikea' enlivened by a mural of what I take to be a Kyoto garden by way of colour. There is, disconcertingly, a back bar but no actual counter to dangle at. Still, working in Japan, I learned to expect the unexpected.  But this Honshu pretender, the replacement for the late unlamented Cocoon, is owned by the peeps behind Boujiis and Bumpkin, its stance more Made In Chelsea than Chiba Prefecture. Our Eurasian cocktails are pretty impressive all round...if somewhat ambitiously priced. £14 gets Senkai Manhattan with its maraschino and whiskey jelly globule lurking unnervingly in the glass like a blood clot on a killer mission. Szechuanita (£12) - a pomegranate margarita turbo-charged with Szechuan pepper-infused syrup - is a tasty blast and mingmei martini - Whitley Neil gin, cherry heering, raspberries and organic apple juice - garnished with a red chilli sliver on a floating basil leaf (for all the world, like something in the lady garden-like as drawn by a Magna porn cartoonist) gets the yin-yang balance right. For the intrepid, parsnip cup vodka (parsnip purée, coconut, vanilla, lemon and ginger in an absinthe rinsed glass) is an inscrutable adventure. There’s half a dozen shochu, wines by the glass from £7 and Champagne from everyday Möet to red letter day Dom P rosé at £420. From a selection of pricey bar bites, try pork and Jerusalem artichoke gyoza, rock shrimp tempura with red chilli mayo (£9.50) and pepper squid. The vast room is empty all bar six other punters. 'Senkai' in Japanese might translate as 'pure land away from the world.' Tonight, it's a land the world has pure failed to locate. 'People are all out on terraces  enjoying the Indian summer,' sighs one hopeful, smiley staffer by way of an apology. This begs the question; will Senkai be as sunk as a leaky junk with no clientele to speak of from May to September? 65 Regent Street, W1 7494 7600

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