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August 26, 2014
From the outside, Kurobuta doesn’t look like much: a low grey building at the back of a residential street in Marble Arch with contemporary glass shoji and a couple of tables and chairs outside. At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be the most welcoming of venues and as you step inside, the simple yet stylish décor of wood, slate and dulled metal, complete with low-hanging wire-cage bulbs and suspended beams, adds to the feeling that Kurobuta doesn’t quite fit in in the West.
However, you don’t have long to ponder this as the relaxed and sociable staff come over for a natter, hand you a bunch of menus – including one which tells you about their sake – and take you to your seat.
The menu is extensive and every single item sounds delicious, from the ‘Junk Food Japan’ section – which includes dishes such as Tuna Sashimi Pizza with Truffle Ponzu, Red Onions and Green Chillies, and Miso Grilled Hot Wings – to the ‘Significant Others’ like the Crispy Skin Duck Confit, Watermelon, Daikon Pickle and Spicy Peanut Soy, or the Japanese Mushrooms Grilled on Hoba Leaf with Gorgonzola, Miso and Pine Nuts.
After rifling through the numerous menus and selecting our cocktails – the Hurricane is definitely to be recommended but, as its name suggests, is not to be taken lightly – we manage to force ourselves into a decision.
The Flamed Edamame with Sake, Lemon, Butter and Maldon Salt make a delightfully moreish starter with the twist of flavours upping the ante on the usual steamed dish. The Baby Shrimp Tempura is cooked to perfection in the light batter and is paired beautifully with the slight drizzle of sweet yet spicy Kimchee Mayo. This balances well with the sweetness of the scallop sashimi and the tartness of its marinade.
Our standout favourite however is the Nasu Dengaku; Sticky Miso Grilled Aubergine with Candied Walnuts which our very candid and helpful waitress recommended. The crisp caramalised exterior gives way to the melt-in-the-mouth aubergine, the sticky sweetness balancing perfectly with the slightly sour note of the smokey walnut and the daikon, complimenting and completing the dish.
Every flavour is expertly paired, with typical Japanese ingredients making unusual Western pit stops to create fantastically presented and just plain tasty food.
Ex-Nobu Head COwner and chef, Scott Hallsworth perfectly fuses not only East with West, and tradition with innovation, but luxury with humour and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere which leaves no question as to why Kurobuta is such a success amongst the local residence.
Read our interview with Scott Hallsworth here.
Vicky Ilankovan – Lifestyle Editor