The development and regeneration of the London Road Quarter as a genuine expansion of Brighton City Centre has laid the foundations for the private sector to come forward and contribute to the revitalisation and re-definition of what is being called The Green Gateway to the city.

The provision of strong and attractive gateways to Brighton strengthens and enhances the overall character and diversity of the city; it aims to leave a lasting, positive impression on visitors through the strength and quality of its character and identity. More importantly, it has enabled niche markets to expand to transform the area into a highly attractive, integrated urban quarter.

Transforming such areas requires new and innovative ideas; forward-thinking individuals who energetically pursue concepts and plans with originality and creativity. With the opening of Brighton’s first Japanese organic, plant-based, vegan restaurant - Kusaki - in Circus Parade, Fabio Lauro is providing a ‘....unique opportunity to experience a different way of eating vegetables and discover new flavours and textures….’ to residents and visitors alike.

The Argus: Kusaki has opened in New England Road, BrightonKusaki has opened in New England Road, Brighton

Kusaki - meaning plant - sits amidst a triangle of tall trees that reflect in the restaurant’s large glass windows and which connect you to nature even before you enter. The Shibui ideal, the Japanese principle Fabio has based this restaurant on, tells us this connection to nature will enhance our lives and open our eyes to the beauty of real life - in this case through the provision of plant- based food. It is an attitude. I am interested.

As we step inside, there is something very subtle and very simple about the interior. In the search for the Shibui ideal, Fabio has created an unassuming and quiet feeling about the place; unobtrusive and unostentatious. It is authentic without the need for decoration, so the walls are left in their brick and plaster state, punctuated only by a few original Japanese paintings in the dining room and a beautiful mural in the sushi and cocktail bar.

The Argus: One of the dishes served at the restaurantOne of the dishes served at the restaurant

The exposed and mostly uncovered walls, along with the subtle lighting, is clever because your eyes are drawn straight away to the colour of the pink flowers of the cherry blossom tree in the traditional dining room, and then you notice how the colour of the blossom has been reproduced in splashes on the mural of the modern sushi and cocktail bar. This gives you an idea of balance - the old and the new working together. It is ‘ Refined Beauty That Isn’t Affected By Time.’ It’s just lovely.

Shibui food seems simplistic, but often this path to simplicity is gained by complex and intricate variables that make them unique. Parcels of Nigiri and Maki with a range of seasoned Japanese rice, silken tofu, blanched asparagus, sliced avocado, mango and chilli garnish come wrapped in thin belts of nori, adorned by wasabi and delicate pieces of green finery.

The Argus: The new restaurant serves vegan foodThe new restaurant serves vegan food

Gyoza filled with spicy kimchi and oyster mushroom and tempura vegetables with a soy sake dip and shitake mushroom powder leads to the highlight - a green curry served with rice and panko coated sweet potato. This is vegan cuisine at its very best.There are so many different flavours and textures in all of the dishes that you spend some time trying to work them out. ‘Our approach,’ explains Fabio, ‘is knowledgeable, playful and engaging.’ Yes - it is.

Fabio Lauro’s aim in creating the concept that is Kusaki is to provide his diners with a colourful and creative menu, to surprise them with a ‘healthy and mindful eating experience,’ and to make this experience accessible to all budgets. ‘Gochisousama’ to Fabio, Reuben Waller and the whole team. Okawari kudasai?