Since its opening in July of this year, Cafe Kaizen has already played host to such illustrious names in the UK party scene as Kate Moss, Radio One’s Nick Grimshaw and Rita Ora. By all standards, these star-studded accolades would point to Cafe Kaizen being a fairly big player in the nightlife game– we thought we should drop by and see if it lived up to our expectations. By Ellie Day
Situated on Hanover Square in the heart of Mayfair, the location is undeniably a yuppy’s dream. Yet, although the club is just minutes from Oxford Street, it remains somewhat elusive as a venue; feeling like something of a well-kept secret. At 11 o’ clock on a Saturday night, the club was buzzing with people, but not overcrowded, giving it an aura of exclusivity in stark contrast to the standard sweaty London venue which has become synonymous with clubbing in the Capital.
Cafe Kaizen’s design concept is an East London/Asian fusion – cherry blossom trees meet deconstructed timber panelling to create an ambience that’s self-consciously ‘cool’. The tongue-in-cheek irreverent theme even extends to the loos, where you’re instructed to throw your used hand towels into a beautiful Ming vase acting as a bin. All around the club, upcycled is the mot du jour, with an industrial warehouse vibe running through the entrance to the club right through to the main dance area. Artwork is a key element of the club, with pieces of art dotted around the venue.
There’s even a portrait of Cara Delevingne hung backwards in the entrance to the main dance area, with only the back of the frame visible. When it comes to décor, it’s clear that Cafe Kaizen doesn’t play by the rules.
The atmosphere in Cafe Kaizen is relaxed, whilst retaining a real sense of elegance. The clientele lean towards those Bright Young Things who work locally – PR agency-heavy Soho and West London’s media publishing houses are a stumbling distance away, which says something about Kaizen’s target audience. The club is purposefully designed to be an overtly feminine space, with pink neon darting on walls, and rose-tinted lighting around the venue. It’s certainly a non-threatening, female-friendly venue.
The club’s Zen influence features heavily, with the seating arranged neatly around the main dance floors which allows for sitting and chatting with friends – a welcome departure from the myriad clubs in which talking is considered an optional extra. In terms of music, the vibe varies significantly according to when you visit – Felix da Housecat holds a weekly residency, and most Saturday nights feature house music, but if you visit in the early evening you’re likely to hear the sounds of something much more chilled; more ambient.
Food & Drink:
At Cafe Kaizen, expect to be offered a New York-inspired menu of cocktails, with an Asian influence. Not to be missed is Cafe Kaizen’s signature cocktail, the Kami Kaizen; a citrus medley of Grey Goose vodka, Japanese Yuzu and a dash of Cointreau which is priced quite specifically at £8.88 – the lucky number in Chinese. Even better, all syrups and juices are made on site. If you’re not quite sure what drink you’re looking for, the bar staff are all trained mixologists who are able to create a cocktail according to your tastes. It’s a lovely addition which makes your visit feel all the more catered to the individual.
Food tends to be served as light bites, including sashimi, gyoza and dim sum, rather than full meals. This makes Cafe Kaizen a great place to go if you’re looking to share dishes with friends, or eat a small meal before heading out, but shouldn’t be top of your list if you’re hoping to be served a three course meal.
If you’re looking for a venue in Central London which is a departure from the usual cookie-cutter chrome and leather bar, then Cafe Kaizen could well be the place for you. Stepping down into the heart of the club, the sensation is one of being transported far away from your London surroundings and immersed in a quirky, low-lit Zen garden-esque dreamworld.
With its unique design concept and a wonderful selection of drinks on offer, Cafe Kaizen has succeeded in injecting an element of fun into Mayfair’s nightlife scene.