Our expert restaurant review of Cubé, an intimate fine-dining Japanese restaurant in Mayfair that specialises in tapas-style dishes, sushi, rare sakes and whiskies
Cubé in a nutshell
This sleek, intimate restaurant brings sushi and Japanese ‘tapas’ with a fine dining twist to Mayfair
Cubé restaurant review
Tucked away on the edge of Mayfair, on Blenheim Street, Japanese restaurant Cubé is small – just 36 covers – but seems larger thanks to a minimalist, sleek décor that’s saved from sparseness by swathes of plush, pale wood panelling everywhere. It’s a bit like having your dinner inside a Scandinavian sauna – in a good way. Combine this with flatteringly dim lighting, a low-key atmosphere and inviting little snugs and corners where you can tuck yourself away, and the effect is welcomingly intimate.
As well as the main restaurant area on the ground floor, you can also eat, as we did, at the cosy Kakurega bar (meaning hideaway, in Japanese) downstairs. Efficiently run by Reo Nomura (previously of Kouzu and Tokimeite), it’s ideal for those who’d like to raid Cubé’s extensive selection of sakes and Japanese whiskies, and the ‘owner’s cellar’: a stash of rare wines with low mark-ups.
Cubé also have a signature range of Japanese cocktails – we tried, and enjoyed, a sour made with Nikka whisky, and a Citrus Monkey: Monkey 47 gin with fresh pink grapefruit, lime, lemon and grapefruit bitters.
Head chef Osamu Mizuno hails from Nobu and Sake no Hana, and his tapas menu is based on traditional Japanese dishes with the odd European ingredient thrown in, from fresh tofu with yuzu chilli, and steamed egg with foie gras and truffle oil, to rosemary pork kakuni (braised pork belly) and asari clam sakamushi (sake-steamed clams). Order three to four dishes per person, depending on how hungry you are.
A cold plate of al dente broccoli and cooked spinach came drizzled with a creamy sesame miso sauce and slices of crispy lotus root, while spicy tuna tartare was a delicious Japanese spin on a Gallic classic thanks to spankingly fresh fish.
Ox tongue tacos turned out to be a clever Japanese-Mexican mash up; the tender meat served on lettuce cups, with an Asian-style salsa made with punchy red chilli and vinegar.
Dainty ribs of marinated lamb came with a mint oroshi – a Japanese dipping sauce normally made with radish and soy sauce but here made with mint and sour ponzu. Slices of tender pink beef had been aged with salt and koji (a mould used to make sake), and had a gorgeously deep meaty flavour.
Menu must-order at Cubé
Butter-soft scallops are a must if you’re a seafood obsessive; perfectly cooked, they came drizzled with an intense sea urchin butter so delicious we nearly drank it directly from the scallop shell it was served in. The soft, tender lamb with a bronzed, crisp ribbon of fat was another hit; the sour, refreshing oroshi a clever spin on a classic mint sauce.
High end: small plates range from £4.90 to £26.90 (the latter for a plate of blanched lobster sashimi). Sushi starts at £2 for a single nigiri to £32 for a chef’s choice sashimi platter.
Written by Hannah Guinness
Photographs by Kaoru Ishikawa