Murakami London – Japanese Food in Leicester Square
When I was invited to review Murakami I spent some time trying to work out why I thought I’d been there before. That sense of deja vu came not from a restaurant but from a series of books which I have sitting on my shelf including ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicle’ and ‘Kafka on the Shore’. In fact, the restaurant is intended to be an Izakaya, a kind of Japanese gastro-pub where you can eat and drink in a relatively informal setting. And, in the heart of London, at the top of St Martin’s Lane, that is no bad thing.
The menu clearly caters for a variety of customers, from tourists through to office workers and there are good value bento boxes for weekday lunches. But, since we were reviewing we opted for a selection of dishes. And of course the odd cocktail…
Shrimp popcorn tempura came with a lovely spicy yuzu mayo, lime and a sprinkling of chilli. It’s a great dish to share with a light, crisp tempura batter and just enough heat to make the dish sing.
We loved the aburi rainbow roll – four kinds of fish topping cucumber and avocado rolls, then flame seared and served with Murakami sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi. At this stage, I began to realise we might have over ordered…
But, we were intrigued by the description of the Chirashi Tart. Chirashi means ‘scattered’ but here the ingredients are not so much scattered as beautifully presented in a kind of sushi cake. It seemed a shame to dismantle it to eat, but of course, we did – and thoroughly enjoyed the mixture of scallop, flame seared salmon and prawn.
We had both ordered dishes from the Robata too. Black cod for me, marinated in saiyko lemongrass miso with mango salad and 100gm of wagyu beef with truffle butter and black truffle paste for my companion. And, in the interest of eating at least one of our five a day, an order of grilled stem broccoli with garlic oyster sauce.
Murakami has an open kitchen so you can see your food being cooked on the Robata. I’m not sure if this WAS ours, but we loved watching…
The food arrived looking picture perfect.
The Wagyu looked delicious but was perhaps not quite as meltingly tender as hoped. It may just have needed a little resting.
Black cod was delicious, with firm flaky meat in a sweet sticky marinade. And the broccoli was nicely crunchy
Needless to say, we had definitely over ordered. I enjoyed an ice cream mochi for dessert, which is just about the size of a tablespoon of ice cream in a soft rice cake outer.
We were slightly disappointed that, despite the fact the restaurant wasn’t busy, customers were seated in one set of rather closely packed tables with the result that conversation was difficult without a raised voice. Perhaps they were expecting a lunchtime rush?
The food overall got a thumbs up from us. It’s well priced and the sort of place that is good to know about if you are looking for somewhere reasonably priced to eat in Covent Garden/Leicester Square. Service was friendly and fast and everything was beautifully presented.
63-66 St Martin’s Lane,
London WC2N 4JS