Sosharu by Jason Atherton

Sosharu by Jason Atherton

Since opening his acclaimed debut restaurant Pollen Street Social, chef Jason Atherton has expanded his culinary vision not only in the UK but across Asia and beyond to more than a dozen locations in the past five years. Back on home turf London, he embarks on a divergent culinary exploration to the east with an upscale Japanese izakaya dining concept. Sosharu cleverly expands on the “social” theme of his restaurant empire, its name playing on a Japanese pronunciation of the English word. The coming together of the two cultures reveals itself not only in the cuisine—seasonal British ingredients prepared with classic Japanese methods—but also in Neri&Hu’s design for the spaces.

Situated on the ground floor of a busy commercial street in London’s Clerkenwell district, the design intent is to remove guests from the fast-paced streetscape and transport them immediately to another time and place. Inspired by traditional Japanese minka houses from the Edo era, a timber structure is inserted into the center of the space. Sheltered within the domestic warmth of the timber ‘house’ is the Main Dining area, where guests can enjoy an intimate meal, while still participating in the social aspect of dining through the layering of lightweight kōshi timber screens and mirrored reflections along the outer walls.

Surrounding the ‘house’ are classic idealized Japanese landscape elements—the ‘earthen terrace’ corridor, the Cold Bar and Dispense Bar as feature ‘rocks’, the Private Dining tsubo-niwa ‘garden’ and the deep azure ‘sky’ above. The Chef’s Table Kisetsu, meaning seasons, occupies a discreet corner of the landscape, curtained off with Japanese indigo-dyed noren curtains printed with the Sosharu emblem. Guests are installed at a U-shaped counter reminiscent of those intimate neighborhood izakaya where the chef greets you by name, prepares your food before your eyes and serves it to you directly.

Carved out of the stone ground is a set of stairs that transports guests yet again, back from an historic era to contemporary Japan, 7 Tales Bar evokes the Tokyo subculture of Shinjuku Golden Gai. Walls feature a collage of photos taken around Japan that embody the counterculture spirit of Japanese artists from the 1960’s. Banquette seating traces along the perimeter, culminating in a brass-topped bar. Included in Neri&Hu’s design scope were custom graphic elements—details such as coat check tags and drink coasters printed with vintage Japanese graphics, bespoke wallpapers, and denim curtains sewn in the Japanese selvedge style. Japanese proverbs can be found throughout, offering words of wisdom to guests as they indulge in the food and drink offered at each of the three unique concepts contained within Neri&Hu’s design for Jason Atherton’s first Japanese restaurant and bar.

Gross Area
495 m²


Completion Date
April 2016

October 2014 – April 2016

64 Turnmill Street, EC1M 5RR London, UK