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Standing out from the crowd: restaurant design

Updated: May 12

Independent Pan-Asian fusion restaurant chain OKA commissioned us to help with the major expansion and refurbishment of its Kingly Court site in London’s West End.

Oka Restaurant Kingly Court Bar Dining.


Having been a mainstay at this bustling hub of eateries for over eight years, the restaurant was about to double in size and the owner wanted to take the opportunity to elevate the dining and cocktail experience, as well as build a stronger brand presence at this competitive dining destination.


Frequented by local businesses, Carnaby Street shoppers and tourists, as well as a lively evening crowd, OKA at Kingly Court attracts a slightly different crowd to its sister restaurants, which have a strong following of regulars due to their more residential London locations.


OKA also has a unique offer at Carnaby, blending ‘Robata’ grilled delights with its usual fusion of Pan-Asian and Sushi delicacies. The Japanese cuisine of ‘Robatayaki’, also known as ‘Robata’, translates as ‘fireside cooking’ which, like barbecuing, slow-grills food over hot charcoal.


So it’s this Japanese cooking method, as well as the Japanese art of symmetry that has inspired our overall design concept for OKA. The interior architecture scheme is informed by the principle of ‘Notan’ - the Japanese word meaning ‘dark-light’ - a technique that creates harmony and balance in space using symmetry.

Oka Restaurant Kingly Court Bar Dining.


Balance was also important to the design team in terms of designing a scheme which complemented rather than dominated the dining experience: “My restaurants are all about the food”, says the owner, “so it was critical that the design team understood how to create an environment that works in harmony with my philosophy”.


The design scheme plays with dark and light materials as well as colour to create a warm and welcoming, multi-layered transformation of the previous space. Textures and materials quietly evoke a modern Japanese aesthetic. Timber architectural details, bespoke polished plaster walls and raw textured plaster work, together with papered wall panels, are all subtly suggestive of the region’s architecture. And a celebration of the restaurant’s Robata cooking method is expressed through the ‘charred’ dark timber end grain detail around the Bar front and the Pass.

Oka Restaurant Kingly Court Bar Dining.

The new larger layout allows for a journey of discovery and is designed to satisfy a range of diners’ needs. Those who want to be close to the action can enjoy the theatre of dining at the new centrally featured marble topped bar with glimpses through to the semi-open kitchen where more magic happens!


Elsewhere there is plenty of choice to suite everyone’s mood - from comfortable banquet seating to intimate booths, window seats through to more discreet tables at the rear. The new private dining room is proving popular, seating up to 12 in style around its beautiful raw edged timber table, lit by bespoke handcrafted silk pendants.

Oka Restaurant Kingly Court Bar Dining.

Pride of place in the main dining area is a dramatic map of the East Asia region – a trademark of the OKAbrand and present in all their restaurants in a smaller format - but this is the only common element. There’s no sense of a ‘chain’ at this restaurant. Indeed, the mix of pictures and objects on display add a personal touch to build on the independent feel of the place, and the huge pride that the owner and his staff take in serving their unforgettable food. 

“I couldn’t be happier with the result. It’s quite a risk to expand your restaurant size in the current economic climate but Lloyd and his team have achieved great things with the space. My customers and staff love it!”
Ohad Kastro, Founder & Owner, OKA Restaurant

About OKA: Established in 2013, OKA Restaurants operate 6 restaurants across London, specialising in fine Pan-Asian cuisine and traditional handmade Sushi.

Photography: Adam Luszniak  


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