Tokimeite, roughly translating as ‘anticipation’ or ‘butterflies’, is an apt name for this high-end restaurant from Michelin-starred Japanese chef Yoshihiro Murata. Yoshihiro has collaborated with Japanese cooperative Zen-Noh Group to bring his washoku Japanese cooking from Kyoto and Tokyo to the heart of Mayfair, London.
On entering the restaurant from swanky Conduit Street, we were immediately hit with a sense of calm and a fresh woody scent. Interiors are inspired by the elements, each section representing fire, water or wood with paneling, textured floors and tables, and striking chequered room partitions. It’s all very sleek and sophisticated. Every so often the Joseph wood oven is opened and a smoky aroma filters through the clean air from the open preparation area where chefs are meticulously assembling sushi, and then wafts over the contemporary bar and up into elaborate lanterns inspired by ancient temples.
Aromas teasing our senses, we decided to go for the set menu to get a taste of everything. After a fragrant yuzu margarita topped up with sake (not included in the price of the menu), the first course stunned with its presentation – thick-cut pieces of salmon, tuna and sea bass sashimi were laid on ice and sprinkled with delicate yellow petals and fine carrot ribbons. Prawn tempura was fresh and light with a creamy, fiery wasabi mayo coating, while salmon tartare came with bursts of fish roe bubbles and crisp fried capers.
Mains are designed to share – pink salmon had a hint of smoke from the wood oven and a slight char from the blowtorch that was applied just before serving. It sat on an umami-rich miso, basil and spinach cream (think Japanese-style pesto). Tender, deep-pink slithers of wagyu rump steak marbled with fat came with tiny mounds of seasoning for dipping – English mustard, seven spice, sea salt and caper berries. A mushroomy, umami sake on the side really brought out the flavours of the meat.
The salmon sushi rolls were good but didn’t quite meet the impressive standards of other courses, the rice being a tad on the dry side. However, the contrasting textures of soft and flavour-packed wagyu and sushi rice nigiri worked well.
For dessert, minty-green matcha panna cotta was refreshing and silky and presented in a cute Japanese pot with a wooden lid, with another dose of pretty edible flowers.
Presentation of each course and the immaculate service is what stands out at this glossy restaurant. However, Mayfair is a premium location; so expect to pay an elevated price for your meal.
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