Monday, 11 January 2016

Restaurant review | Murakami, London



Every year at around Christmas time, my dad organises a theatre trip to London, with dinner thrown in. This year we went to see A Christmas Carol at the Noel Coward in St. Martin’s Lane. After asking for recommendations, he booked us a table at Murakami – not only was it practically opposite the theatre, but it was one of the places on my restaurant list! Needless to say, I was really excited and looked at the menu a good four or five times in readiness. I knew a good night would be in store and it’s great that my family all love sushi too.

From the moment we walked in, the service was excellent. Dad had requested a good table and we were given a choice upon arrival. We went for one away from the entrance, but still towards the front of the restaurant. Our server for the evening was Jackie, who was so lovely. He couldn’t have done more for us throughout the evening and even spent time chatting to us about London life and his ambitions of being an actor. It was a total breath of fresh air to be at a restaurant where the staff have time for you and aren’t keen to quickly take your order and get rid of you after an hour or so. All the staff were great, though he just really stood out – and is also highly praised on Trip Advisor!
My brother was working on the Tuesday, so we met him in London and as he was going to be driving home from the station later that night, mum and I began with cocktails. She went for the kumquat daiquiri, which was incredible; I chose the pink mojito, which was definitely an Asian twist on the classic. It contained pomegranate and pink peppercorn syrup, along with all the usual ingredients – and was so fresh. Dad started with a bottled beer and chose the wine, while we all perused the menus. I loved that they were only two sides, as there’s nothing worse than having to read through umpteen pages. Despite the size, there was still plenty of choice with starters, soups, various kinds of sushi and grill items.

We decided the best thing to do would be to order a selection of dishes to share – that way we could get a taste of everything. The tables are quite small and once the serving plates and soy sauce dishes are brought over, it leaves little room for anything else. Luckily, you can choose as much or as little as you like and we kept a copy of the menu to order various courses. Everything is prepared to order and brought to the table when ready, so we managed to eat each dish before the next came to the table.

Dad and I both love soft shell crab and it’s something we always order at Yo! Sushi – so choosing it at Murakami was a no-brainer. There were three large pieces, so we all managed to sample a little and it was very good. The batter was light and perfectly crisp, the crabmeat was succulent and the accompanying sauce topped it off. I could have quite easily eaten the whole plate myself, I enjoyed it that much.
Mum picked out the Murakami rolls, which tasted as beautiful as they looked. They were fresh, colourful and unlike traditional rolls which are wrapped in nori seaweed, these were rolled in thin sheets of cucumber. Containing salmon sashimi and avocado and topped with salmon caviar, this dish really set the bar high and I was looking forward to trying more of the sushi.
We didn’t have long to wait though, as our next dish was the cured duck rolls – eight pieces which were neatly lined up, all topped with smoked duck breast and drizzled with hoi sin sauce. These were a hit with everyone, so a good choice by Robert. You could really taste the smoky flavour of the duck, which had been cured nicely and so thinly sliced. Because the rest of the dishes we chose contained fish or seafood, this made a change and broke the meal up a bit.
 
I picked out two of my favourites: the crispy baby squid and the volcano rolls. The squid was exactly what I was expecting: crisp, well-seasoned and with the right amount of chilli. I can honestly say, it was the best I’ve had in a long while and unashamedly, I ate most of the portion. It was so moreish and the little pieces of batter at the bottom of the plate were too good to go to waste. I’d had volcano rolls at the Buddha-Bar before and when I first looked at the Murakami menu, my eyes went straight to them again. Boy, they did not disappoint! Like everything else, the presentation was spot on. Eight rolls were stacked up beautifully to resemble a volcano and it really made for a table centre piece. There were so many contrasting textures: soft avocado and cooked salmon, crisp tempura and the tobiko (which I think is my new ‘thing’), which just popped in the mouth. This would definitely have been the highlight of the evening, but we took a 10 minute break and then ordered some more food!
Again I picked out a dish I’d had elsewhere before, enjoyed and knew would go down well with the rest of the family – and that was the rainbow rolls. There was plenty of variety with 10 rolls made up of five different kinds of fish, all varying in shades of pink. I think I had tuna and salmon, it was difficult to tell and I just had to top both with plenty of pickled ginger. Then to finish, dad picked out the lamb chops from the robata Japanese grill section. In his own words: it was good to end the meal with something other than fish. I could not agree more, especially as the plate of four chops arrived to the table still sizzling. The meat was still blushing, but had been char-grilled well to get that barbecue flavour. The marinade of sweet soy was divine and the plate was soon demolished. I highly advise trying out the lamb as a change from sushi – and there are plenty of other grill options available, including rib eye and baby back ribs!

The meal may have been slightly on the dearer side, but it was well worth it, not least for the array of dishes we managed to sample. We didn’t have room for dessert and feeling suitably full, we made our way over the road to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Love, Lucy xx

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