Kurobuta is Executive Chef & Co-Founder Scott Hallsworth’s take on a Japanese pub, or izakaya. It has become a much talked about place to dine in London – they already have a pop-up restaurant in Chelsea which I haven’t had the chance to try out… yet.
But when I heard that a permanent location was being opened in my neck of the woods, in fact, down the road from me, I just couldn’t wait! I signed up to their newsletter and followed them on social media and anticipated their opening. As soon as they were taking bookings, I booked a table for myself and my best friend at the end of their first week and counted down the days.
I thought the location was quite fitting and appreciated the fact it wasn’t on the main road (i.e. Edgware Road). Our table was booked for early evening, so it wasn’t busy when we walked in, but I can’t say that was the case when we left – it was heaving and I’m not surprised! The staff were friendly and welcoming and I quite liked their quirkiness – really added to the whole experience. I also liked the open kitchen idea and the décor, although the low hanging lighting did seem to be a bit of a nuisance for the waiters and waitresses serving the food and drinks.
I had already checked out the menu (several times) to narrow down what I wanted to try this time round because, let’s be honest, I already knew I would want to go again. Who doesn’t love Japanese food? Especially when Kurobuta was offering some interesting twists to dishes as we know them.I’m sure the menu will be changing with seasonal produce, but I just wanted to share what was on offer during my visit. It has to be said that it was a bit on the pricey side, but I expected this before I went and saw it as a treat. Although, when you hear ‘Japanese pub’ I suppose you wouldn’t be expecting these prices either. But I’ll let the food do the talking…
The presentation was incredible and made the dish look so tempting. The flavours were fresh and subtle and the added textures were much appreciated. I’ve never tried a beef tartare before, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to, but I liked this dish and I’m glad I started with this, because the dishes later on were a bit more intense and would’ve overpowered these flavours.
This was the Nasu Dengaku Sticky Miso Grilled Aubergine with Candied Walnuts. There aren’t enough words in this world to describe how tasty these were. In fact, I loved them so much that I tried to replicate this at home, and although I can’t say it tasted like theirs, it was a fair attempt. I will perfect my recipe one day…I went for Kurobuta’s take on Japanese junk food… the incredible Tuna Sashimi Pizza with Truffle Ponzu, Red Onions and Green Chillies. I didn’t really know what to expect here. How can you have tuna sashimi on pizza!? But I was pleasantly surprised.
I love Tuna sashimi, but it doesn’t have a strong or distinct taste. The ‘pizza’ element was the flat crispy base, and the sharpness from the onions and chillies were complimented by the tanginess of the truffle ponzu. This left a tingling sensation in (and around) my mouth! But I quite liked the dish as a whole – I would never have thought this would work, but it did.
My friend ordered the BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Spicy Peanut Soy. I couldn’t try this of course as I don’t eat pork, but I tried the spicy peanut soy sauce and it was so rich and intense – I felt like it would make a great condiment for all sorts of food! It’s also one of the dishes that all the reviews had been raving about – I’m just sad that the food isn’t halal.
We had to order dessert of course. Especially when the ever so nice waitress told us about the talented pastry chef and so we couldn’t resist!
My friend ordered the Jelly Doughnut Pistachio Parfait which consisted of Pistachio parfait, limoncello jelly, matcha meringue, hazelnut and chocolate mini doughnuts in green tea sugar. Loved the presentation; I tried a bit and liked the different textures too. I wasn’t so sure of the matcha meringues though… it reminded me of something soapy. But hey, that’s just me!
I on the other hand ordered the beautifully presented and delicious Japanese Carrot Cake. This came with shortbread & hazelnut crumb, shiso cream Chantilly and lemongrass & coconut sorbet. The carrot/coconut combination worked really well together. Especially with the coconut being in the form of sorbet, it made it quite light and refreshing, so it didn’t overpower the other flavours which was amazing.
Each element fulfilled it’s purpose and brought something to the dish. Honestly, hats off to the pastry chef for a very tasty dessert, which was both pleasing to the eye as well as my taste buds!
Like most places these days, the dishes come out as and when they are ready. We were just very patient and waited because I wanted to take this beautiful picture of our table of goods.
I’d say it’s probably best to go with a group of friends who like trying different dishes and don’t mind sharing. Although the portions aren’t huge, it just would be a shame not to order a selection and try a bit of everything. Plus it helps when splitting the bill – it seems so much more reasonable then!
I would definitely say this was a unique dining experience. And like I said before, I cannot wait for the opportunity to eat there again.