A Mayfair institution has been given a slick, high-end makeover.
Ginza Onodera restaurant review
Teppanyaki specialist Matsuri was a mainstay of Japanese fine dining in Mayfair for 23 years until it closed in 2016, only to reopen earlier this year after a £2.5 million makeover as Ginza Onodera, with the same chef – Ryosuke Kishi, formerly of the Grand Hyatt Tokyo – and a broader menu that focusses on traditional Japanese classics with modern accents.
Like Quaglino’s down the road, at Ginza Onodera you need to go to the basement to fully appreciate the restaurant’s charms (although the slick, statement-making monochromatic cocktail bar that you pass as you walk in is still very swanky).
Downstairs, clean lines and a sumptuous use of materials – fitted mirrors along the walls, polished concrete floors, marble accents and glossy, neutral tones – convey a lush minimalism that’s impressive, if a little corporate (perhaps not a surprise, given that Ginza Onodera is now part of the Onodera group, which operates other high-end sites in Tokyo, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Hawaii, New York and Paris).
The menu is extensive and detailed, starting with kobachi (little snacks) followed by starters, sashimi and sushi, tempura, soups, robata and teppanyaki. Ginza Onodera’s prestigious Mayfair location is reflected in the liberal use of high-end, luxurious ingredients, from Kobe beef to Norwegian king crab.
We start with cocktails – the Panacea, a boozy Japanese take on a corpse reviver, is our favourite – and tiny kobachi dishes of sea bream shabu-shabu, and seafood dumplings. In the first, just-cooked, tender slices of fish with shiitake mushroom swim in a subtle kelp broth. In the latter, deep-fried, crunchy piscine parcels pair well with crispy aubergine.
Moving onto starters, delicate, almost translucent slices of cactus-fed turbot marinated in kelp came with accompaniments of wasabi, dried seaweed and a spicy radish paste. Whether we could detect the cactus is debatable, but the delicate turbot was lovely – a subtle, elegant dish. Salmon tataki, given the lightest kiss of heat, melted in the mouth. A sushi platter contained plenty of gems, from rich marbled tuna nigiri to sea urchin gunkan maki.
From the robata menu, the kitchen proved its grilling skills with Essex-reared lamb chop and Black Angus beef sirloin; both were beautifully tender and, as you’d expect for the quality of the meat, exceptionally well-flavoured. Dessert was classic with a Japanese twist; a creamy soybean blancmange with kuromitsu, a molasses-like Japanese sugar syrup.
Menu must-order at Ginza Onodera
Exceptional produce is a highlight here and the best way to sample a little of everything is to try one of the sushi platters; from plump slices of butter-soft, fatty marbled tuna and luscious scoops of sea urchin to (predictably good) slices of Kobe beef and creamy seared yellowtail.
A visit to Ginza Onodera is best for a light meal, as portions are very small.
Price range High end. Ginza Onodera is priced accordingly for its plush Mayfair locale and correspondingly prosperous clientele – expect to spend on average £150 per person (or more, if you opt for luxurious items on the menu like the kobe beef, clocking in at an oligarch-worthy £130 for 100g). One for special occasions, then, or you can try out the more reasonably priced £45 set lunch menu.