It’s been quite a wait, but finally a phoenix has risen from the ashes of the former Blue Elephant, or rather a Samurai warrior has burst forth in flames of glory. For happily it wasn’t a case of raise the old to the ground and build something new from scratch, but rather The Blue Elephant’s beautiful Thai pagoda-like structure has been cleverly reworked to serve as a suitable setting for its new Japanese occupant, Bushido.

Meaning ‘way of the warrior’, Bushido describes the Samurai moral code followed from the ninth to the 12th centuries, stressing frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery and honour until death, a theme which has been carried through into every aspect of the decor – if not the ‘frugality’ bit. Samurai warriors dressed in their imposing yet decorative uniform guard the entrance and stand to attention in a giant display unit that dominates the double-volume restaurant space.

These inform the rest of the decor, which puts a dramatic contemporary spin on traditional Japanese style: chairs upholstered in richly coloured and patterned fabric are teamed with dark-stained wooden tables, set against black walls under a red ceiling dripping modern chandeliers composed of traditional lanterns. Upstairs, there’s a lounge where the theme translates into low couches in orange, yellow, red and turquoise with swirly-print cushions and a long mahogany bar studded with swords. Even the bathroom gives a nod to the theme in a fresco of a Japanese woman tattoed from top to toe. And whether upstairs or down, you can’t fail to take in the shimmering silver round DJ Box at the top of the staircase, which promises to turn this into quite the scene after dark.

At lunchtime, there was no DJ in residence, but loungey background music filled the gap, hinting at Bushido’s connection with Buddha Bar (owned by the same company). We were also able to enjoy sea views as we took our pick from a range of modern Japanese dishes, opting for a selection of light snacky options to share. First up was a bowl of warm, salty edamame accompanied by zingy Ringo Minto mocktails, combining fresh mint leaves, green limes and vanilla syrup in fresh apple juice. Then it was on to prawn tempura in a batter that was fresh, light and crispy, though the dipping sauce could have done with more punch. The tuna tartar that followed, however, was an unadulterated delight on the palate, combining minced tuna with sweet and citrusy yuzu miso (yuzu being a type of Japanese citrus fruit) topped with crispy moreish renkon (Japanese potato) chips.

We followed this up with a selection of classic yellowtail sushi and salmon sashimi, plus a portion of new-style sashimi in the form of pieces of salmon sitting on top of grapefruit segments in a subtle yuzu black pepper dressing – a refreshing if not entirely successful combo. It would have been rude not to try one of the restauant’s signature robata offerings, cooked over Japanese charcoal, so we went for ginger-marinated calamari in egg sauce, which was beautifully tender but quite rich, almost as if it was coated in the egg-white part of a fried egg. In contrast to the exotic mains, desserts were, disappointingly, a European lot – crème brûlée, tarte au citron and the like – but the recommended liquid-centre chocolate pudding was in no way regrettable.

Although friendly and eager to please, the waiters hadn’t mastered the Japanese repertoire of ingredients and techniques. However, they were happy to make regular return trips to the kitchen – to enquire about what renkon was, for example – and to give us a tour of the undiscovered corners of this cavernous space, including a mod teppanyaki room, a function room, plus a private dining room that hovers above the surrounding moat on a glass floor so that one has the impression of walking on water – and feels every bit as invincible as one of those Samurai warriors.

The bill (for two)
1x Large water BD1.9
2x Ringo Minto BD4.8
1x Tuna tartar BD4.5
1x Edamame BD2
1x Prawn tempura BD3.8
1x Classic salmon sashimi BD4.5
1x New-style sashimi BD4.9
1x Classic yellowtail sashimi BD4
1x Ika Robota BD2.2
1x Chocolate pudding BD2.5
Total (incl service & levy) BD41.645