Last Updated on March 3, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
Russia meets Asia at Novikov Mayfair.
The last decade has seen a flurry of Russian backed restaurant openings in London. There is the charming ‘baboushka chic’ of Mari Vanna in Knightsbridge, there’s Burger & Lobster and the Goodman steakhouses, Leonid Shutov’s Bob Bob Ricard and Bob Bob Cité are the places to go for louche glamour and the infamous ‘champagne button’, but the daddy of them all is Russian entrepreneur Arkady Novikov‘s eponymous Restaurant & Bar in the heart of Mayfair.
Novikov opened in 2012 and features two standalone restaurants; Novikov Italian Restaurant, which we are reviewing separately, and tonight’s destination, Novikov Asian Restaurant with its emphasis on Chinese and Pan Asian cuisine.
The interior is dark and sexy with wooden tables, marble floors and a DJ dropping some beats. It’s got a cool nightclub atmosphere and reminds me a little of Hakkasan.
The centrepiece is a large open kitchen with an extraordinary seafood and vegetable display. It created a wonderful sense of theatre on the busy and buzzy Monday night that we visit.
When a restaurant has Louis Roederer Brut Premier as its house champagne you know that they are doing something right. With yeasty, nutty notes it was the perfect match with our crudités which came with the creamy umami notes of a shiso mayonnaise. We left the food ordering to the team at Novikov who proceeded to bring us as a veritable feast!
Blinis were the perfect luxe snack to start the meal; topped with sweet, buttery Royal caviar they fired up our gastric juices with the champagne being a great partner for the exploding balls of saline pleasure. We had matched drinks through the meal with the sommelier taking a creative approach that really paid off. To pair with a sequence of top-class sushi and sashimi, he brought us a flask of Dewatsuru Junmai Ginjo sake with its cashew and vanilla flavours and a healthy level of acidity that worked well with our fish and seafood dishes.
From the ‘New Style Sashimi’ menu, we tried the subtle luxury of the scallop and black truffle sashimi and the richness of the yellowtail and coriander inflected with a hint of yuzu. From the classic list, we loved the Alfonsina sashimi, a flavourful gold-flecked Portuguese fish and the yuzu/soy marinated Korean Hirame.
I loved the ‘Small Bites’ of baby squid, deep-fried and served with red onion and chillies – clean and crisp with no hint of grease.
From the amazing ‘Premium Sushi’ selection, Tuna Gunkan (rice wrapped in seaweed) was a multi-layered flavour sensation with the gentleness of bluefin tuna blending with the intensity of smoked aubergine and the saltiness of the gold-topped caviar that crowned the dish. Quail egg and truffle Gunkan was soft and creamy with the truffle flavour lifting the delicate flavour of the egg. The wagyu and foie gras nigiri had a sweet tang and was properly melt-in-the-mouth; and a gorgeously soft sliver of seared Otoro tuna nigiri came with chilli oil, Chinese vinegar and kimchi for a bit of added bite.
Moving back to wine, our glass of Sardinian Meri, Vermentino, Argiolas had mineral, stone, honey and pear notes which stood up well to the Mexican twist of next dish. Tuna and wagyu tacos both came with guacamole and were refreshing with a hint of spice.
From the Dim Sum menu, we tried two dishes. Silky prawn ‘moneybags’ in a spicy, seafood XO sauce came topped with an Ikura caviar egg. Such a sexy mouthful!
And crisp scallop and olive dumplings with spinach had a wonderful crunch that contrasted with the softness of its interior.
The next stage of the remarkable culinary journey came with a visual fanfare with the arrival of the grilled Portuguese Splendid Alfonsino. Cooked under the charcoal the delicious fish was flavoured with Moroccan spices, cumin, mint, turmeric and lemon and served with tomato salsa, grilled asparagus sprinkled with sweet soy and sesame, shiitake mushrooms doused with garlic and soy butter, delectable Padron peppers and cherry tomatoes. This fantastic dish was matched with the buttery, peach and honey flavours of a truly great wine, the Collezione Private, Isola Olena, 2018 Chardonnay.
For a special post main course treat I had a plateful of grilled Carabinero prawns with garlic butter. I love these prawns with their deep, intense flavour and accompanied by a glass of nutty, dry Barbadillo Manzanilla sherry I was in heaven! An earthy, cherry-pink Pinot Noir, Gilles Jourdan Vielles Vignes, Bourgogne Côte d’Or, 2017 was the perfect foil for dried duck skin topped foie gras.
The Novikov Deluxe Dessert Platter is hands down the most wonderfully excessive dessert I have ever eaten! Served in a theatrical cloud of dry-ice, the nine desserts include strawberry, mango, vanilla and guava ice creams, a seductive Matcha tea creme brûlée, an ‘Oopside Down’ charcoal-infused cone filled with smooth dulce de leche ice cream and mixed berries, a melting Vahlrona milk chocolate fondant, the bling of a Rocher XL Hazelnut and Giandujia mousse in a gold-topped chocolate globe and a Pinacolada cheesecake! All washed down with a glass of Novikov’s own label infused Junmai raspberry sake.
Novikov Asian is the perfect Mayfair venue for a hot date, a special occasion or business dinner. As well as the two restaurants there is also The Lounge Bar with its extensive cocktail menu, live music and performances by some of the world’s top DJs. So if you’re after glitz, perfect and informed service and fabulous food and drink in Mayfair then Novikov should be your first call.
Novikov Asian Restaurant
50A Berkeley Street
T +44 (0) 207 399 4330