If you’re looking to escape the crowds on Oxford Street in search of a well-needed drink, then head to Charlotte Street as it’s full of bars and restaurants. The poshest kid on the block has got to be Roka, the fancy Japanese halfway up the street. What you might not know is that below it is The Shochu Lounge, a super sexy underground candlelit Japanese den. Get in there, it’s quite something. You’ll be greeted by some sexy (ish) waitress and asked if you have a reservation. Don’t panic, you’ll probably be fine, but if it is later in the week or the weekend a phone call ahead will only guarantee a decent table.
Shochu is a Japanese vodka-like spirit, made of distilled sweet potato alcohol which apparently dates back to 1549 (so it can’t be that bad or it would be long forgotten). Here in The Shochu Lounge, they have loads of flavours from jasmine, mint, lemon, coffee and raspberry… all BarChick tried and tested. They also have huge jars of the stuff shelved beautifully along one wall which can be purchased (a steal at 260 quid – but they are 4 litres big), and kept for your return with a nice engraved tag marking your turf, so bring someone you wanna show-off to.
The rest of the leather bound booked menu has lots on offer: over fifteen vodkas, a whole heap of Asian inspired cocktails with plenty of sake and wine if you’re not feeling this Shochu malarky. Cocktail-wise the Snowflake (seemed appropriate) with gin, lemon sorbet, lemon juice, yuzu cordial and soda was damn good, or the Nippon Express with single malt Japanese whisky, chargrilled pineapple, lemon juice and maple syrup was delicious if you are looking for a taste of Japan. They also have some awesome Asian beers (Asahi Black, anyone?) – probably slightly less bank breaking as well. Food is a must, from the edamame and the yakitori, to the wagyu beef – take your pick and enjoy.