Restaurant Review: Kurobuta
Nov 30th, 2015.
Kurobuta has become quite the Japanese institution with restaurants gracing Chelsea and Marble Arch. These are already a roaring success and by opening up a restaurant in swish shopping haven Harvey Nichols, perhaps owner Scott Hallsworth knows something that we don’t.
Entering through the side door and ascending in a lift unoccupied by daily shoppers gives a sense of exclusivity to a building that during the day caters for the well -heeled masses. This is a nod to the rise of a new form of dining that thrives in elegantly lit fifth floors neighbouring perfumed hallways and rails of pristine ready to wear.
The restaurant itself is spacious and minimally slick, the roof is a chrome looking semi-circle in contrast to the more intimate spaces in the Chelsea and Marble Arch branches. Sophisticated enough for the foodie crowd, we’re glad that the manager, Sam, is laidback wearing a lumberjack shirt and jeans although this doesn’t mean that his knowledge is rougher than ready. He reels off the menu consisting of some ingredients we’ve never heard of before and offers to order for us – a service that is most welcome. He also points out the photo booth where all the drunken fun happens. We look at it tentatively and decide we’re not ready to wreak havoc just yet.
We start with the restaurant’s signature cocktail – the ‘Green bastard,’ a mix of medori (Japanese melon liquer), lime and cucumber and some crunchy rice senbei crisps. They taste like posh rice crackers made sensational by a punchy jalapeno dip. This is followed by slow cooked octopus with green olive, yuzu, dried miso and chilli which hits the palette with excitement.
Meat eaters will be sure to be satisfied with cedar grilled poussin dipped into a creamy rich chilli miso truffle sauce, a really complimentary combination. BBQ pork belly in steamed buns with spicy peanut soy is truly indulgent with pure melt in the mouth meaty goodness.
We ask what the hero dish is and Sam is overwhelmed (a good sign). He points to the tuna sashimi pizza with truffle ponzu, red onions and green chillies, undeniably the most creative dish on the menu but it was the Kombu roasted Chilean seabass with spicy shiso ponzu that hit the mark. Reminiscent of the famous miso cod at Nobu (Hallsworth used to be the chef there) but half the price, the delicate flakes of sea bass are sharp in taste yet rich and succulent.
Japanese food isn’t all about savoury, as Hallsworth proves and we simply cannot leave the vicinity without a pudding or at least the ‘Honey and Pistachio’ which categorically stops us from leaving. Honey ice cream with honey crunch bits, pistachio cake and Japanese Suntory jelly has now turned this week night into a an indulgent affair.
At the end of dinner we walk out (or rather roll out) of the restaurant without trying out the photo booth. We’ll just have to return next week. To be continued…