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Teppanyaki and more:
A while ago I was invited to a press supper at Matsuri hosted by Kikkoman. Other commitments meant I was unable to go – and instead my friend The-Hedonist enjoyed an evening of Japanese food at Matsuri St James’s and wrote a comprehensive feature about the soy tasting for London-Unattached.
I was jealous. I often get that way when food is involved. This time I COULD go – and carefully blocked out my diary. A good move, I arrived to enjoy a welcome cup of sake while we waited for everyone to arrive.
The evening started with an address by the president Yoshinori Hatta who explained that Matsuri St James’s was a partnership between Kikkoman and JR-Central, the high speed rail operator. He went on to introduce the Restaurant manager Cristoforo Santini, sommelier Tommaso Riccardo Guzzardo and new head chef Ryosuke Kishi who joined in March 2014 from a career which combined a classic French training with work in leading Japanese hotels and private households
The restaurant specialises in Teppanyaki – food cooked on a flat, stainless steel grill. And, Teppanyaki restaurants are often theatrical – with the food almost taking second place to the performance skills of the chef. Of course watching a good chef cook is, for me at least, entertainment. Each table at Matsuri has a chef and part of the enjoyment of the evening is watching your food being skillfully prepared and then served. The challenge, of course, is to produce excellent quality food at the same time.
We were served Horaisen Junmai Ginjo Wa Sake – a soft, floral sake to pair with the Sushi made for us at each table. I’m developing quite a taste for Sake and particularly enjoyed this fresh, slightly nutty version.
Tempura has always been a favourite of mine. One of the few things that wasn’t cooked in front of us it was served with Gerard Tremblay Chablis 1er cru, which we continued to drink through the next course
Alaskan black cod marinated in ginger was sealed then steamed under a copper dome
Delicious – very tender and perfectly flavoured with a soy and ginger marinade
Although before we moved on to the beef dish, I must admit to a little food envy for a fellow diner who wasn’t eating meat and so enjoyed this stunning plate of seafood
The beef was from a supplier in the Basque region of Spain – Txogitxu. Selected for its similarity to Wagyu, I’d personally have preferred a leaner cut. And, yes I know that is heresy and I’m supposed to love the melting fat – but, if I’m honest it takes a really high quality Wagyu to work for me.
It was served with beautiful, seasonal white and green asparagus, all cooked on the teppanyaki and accompanied with a Sicilian red wine, I Vigneri Salvo Foti 2011.
We also enjoyed Garlic Butter Rice, again cooked on the teppanyaki
At this point, one of our number decided that she should try the teppanyaki for herself. Slightly scary! This is Caroline from All That I’m Eating wielding a spatula and knife.
Well, as it happens she is a pretty good cook herself.
Meanwhile we moved on to dessert, the most spectacular of the evening’s dishes – a fireball ice-cream with pineapple.
Washed down with a splendid plum wine this was a fitting finale to a great evening
I thoroughly enjoyed dinner at Matsuri and think it would make a fabulous night out for a party or special event. Or even for a business dinner – the cooking process means that there is plenty of time for conversation. While this isn’t a cheap place to dine out (dinner will come in at around £60 a head), it is an unforgettable experience with some wonderful food.
Matsuri St James’s
15 Bury Street,
London SW1Y 6AL