New (2019) restaurant within the old BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane serving authentic Japanese food
This is a very exciting, new opening to London (2019). I say this as it was about as close to eating in a fine-dining restaurant in Japan as you can get and the meal itself was a complete success. Getting a seat at the counter here will set you back waiting months which, following this meal, I can now understand. It is not cheap at either £150 per person for the 15 courses or £180 for the 18 courses, but this is roughly half the price of the 3 Michelin starred Araki restaurant and with servings that I actually enjoyed more at Endo. A great meal had here and one I would recommend for all the reasons and summary at the expansion button (click for the full review).
Endo Kazutoshi is the former head chef of Zuma in Knightsbridge (which I happened to enjoy a great deal on my visit). Originally from Yokohama, he learnt his skills from his grandfather who was a sushi chef himself. This meal was a modern take on a traditional sushi meal and showed great flare, as did Endo-san himself through the meal, explaining the dishes as the meal progressed with some pleasing theatrics along the way. The counter itself only holds places for 16 people and is a beautifully designed dining room with adjoining bar and terrace area from drinks on sunny days as well.
First to be served was Suiji Japanese clear soup with dried bonito (a larger relative mackerel) which was fresh and well-seasoned from the bonito. Next, Endo’s signature business card, made with tuna served at 21 degrees and rice is 40 degrees celsius and was utterly light and flavorsome. Grade A4 Beef from Miyazaki came next in thinly sliced form on rice and there were certainly no complaints here with beef this good.
A homemade sandwich was made with milk bread and line caught red bream ‘Kobujime Madai’ which is Koji vegetables marinated in Kombucha seaweed. The winning touch here was the wonderfully reduced balsamic vinegar and this was in general, an absolute treat. Next came line caught seabass Nigiri from Yeu island, France and this was very good. Monkfish tempura with sweet daikon radish (which was very sweet) came with Pied de Mouton (French for Sheep’s Foot mushroom) from Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall.
Salmon from the Isle of Mull, Scotland was next and had been lightly smoked in a box before being served as nigiri on rice and was nicely done. Next up was a seasonality dish of heritage tomatoes from the Isle of Wight and beetroot from Essex served with Bluebells which was actually very pleasant. Grilled squid from Azores islands, Portugal came next with kinome herb butter and the squid and herbs from a Japanese farm in Sussex. The squid itself being ok in general.
7 day aged Otoro nigiri from Balearic sea, Spain was a delight. As Otoro is belly tuna this is highly fatty and when good quality, this is a gem to have. This was also served cooked with sea urchin, girolle mushrooms from Gloucestershire, Australian truffles and an egg-based sauce which did not interfere with the tuna flavor. This was a lovely creation to have and an absolute knock out of the meal. Langoustine nigiri from Loch Fyne, Scotland came next with brain sauce, shell powder and salt from Wales with homemade olive oil. The langoustines themselves were supplied live to the restaurant and so were as fresh as they come (literally) and had good sweetness to them at this meal.
Next up, yellow tail tuna came in a gloriously sweet broth with Japanese vegetables grown in East Sussex and was refreshing. Diver caught scallops from Orkney islands with English caviar was sumptuous and nice to be served in the small portion that it was (I find scallops can be quite a stomach full and are usually best in small doses as preference). Enoki mushroom came after this with Asakura Sansho pepper, which is a relative of Sichuan pepper and is from Japan. This is a subtler and gives a tiny numbing effect on the end of the tongue, which I was quite looking forward to(!), but in the end I needed to take quite a big piece whole to achieve this. Tokyo style Akami ‘Zuke’, nigiri came next as the lean tuna on rice and was followed by Miyazaki Wagyu beef from Kobe with Rokko white miso which was always going to be good if done well and this was. Horse Mackerel Bozushi, from Saint Jean de Luz, France had a beautiful aroma of the sea and was another delight. The final savoury course was Unagi (freshwater eel) with signature seaweed from Holland and was a pleasure to have.
As is usual with Japanese meals, there was only one main dessert and this followed probably the only part of the meal I didn’t enjoy which was a small cup/shot of warm matcha. For the dessert, instead of the traditional, egg-based firm custard dessert (tomago) and this dessert was cane sugar soufflé with creme fraiche, rum jelly and popping candy. I have had many soufflés in Michelin starred restaurants that were not as enjoyable and this is by a chef whose forte is another cuisine, so I thought this really showed his skills, just as per the innovative ‘sandwich’ at the start, both of which are very modern and welcome additions to this Japanese sushi meal.
I really enjoyed this meal in every way and I can see fully why it is hard to get in to. There is huge attention to detail in virtually everything that is done here, all served with caring professionalism and interactive hosting and explanations from the head chef throughout. Although the meal ended up being £287 per head (with all the beer and sake), it felt properly worth it as you are getting the real deal here. Not only would I heartily recommend here for a special occasion, I would also recommend treating someone you know who does not favour Japanese food, because if there is a place that advertises it properly and is likely to ‘turn’ them, it is here.
Food Grade: 88%
Location (Click google logo for directions)