Japanese restaurants in London… There is no shortage… A California roll here, a spicy edamame there and every restaurant claiming to offer the worlds best sake…If you like sake. The point is, you know what is on the menu without even looking at it……
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one that was all substance over hype? Wouldn’t it be nice if you weren’t able to order without seeing the predictable menu?
Here’s the other thing, this is not a faceless conglomerate company, it is a family run business which makes it even more impressive when it is a clear recommendation from the Michelin guide.
Ex-Nobu Las Vegas Sushi Chef, Maki’s Executive Head Chef Louis Kenji Huang has perfected this rich and decadent menu for real foodies.
I won’t lie, I am a fan of starters… For the most part, the opening of the menu for me is usually the best part and more often than not, I have subconsciously decided my thoughts on a restaurant within my first few bites. On that basis, they knocked it out of the park with my very first two bites. The Fried Kaki Bites which is fried oysters with ponzu sauce.
I love oysters (both cooked and raw), and anyone who doesn’t is severely judged right now. You know who you are, the “oh, I don’t like fish” or “I’m anaphylactically allergic to shellfish”… Well, I would say have a word with yourselves and try these. If you don’t like fish, you will still like these and if you are allergic, the reaction is entirely worth it.
Next up was the Unagi Tacos of Eel, spring onion, cucumber, avocado, wasabi emulsion. “Ah, Unagi”. While usually I exceptionally sceptical of fusion of native dishes from two cultures and countries, I actually really liked this dish a lot.
Also, Crispy Calamari with Tsukudani sauce, jalapeno, wasabi peanut.
Then came the Seaweed Chuka Salad with Carrot, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, red radish, sesame goma dressing. I am not a huge fan of seaweed salads but this was a real hit with my dining companion. For a really fresh and citrus kick mid meal, this was a good cleanser for preparation for the next dishes.
The next dish was a trio of dream sushi, well my dream sushi. The Wagyu Tartar Nigiri with Quail Egg, next to the Toro Tartar Nigiri with Oscietra Caviar and finally the Foie Gras Nigiri with Fig and Caviaroli. Egg, beef and Fois Gras… What is not to love? Admittedly if you are a vegetarian, you’d struggle, but I loved these..
Following on…. the Wagyu Burger with Maki Mushroom burger sauce, Japanese pickle, tsuma fries. A wagyu burger atop rice and Japanese pickle? It is like the naughty food with a hint of healthy. I really liked the beef and the sauce. That Said, I would be just as happy with just the beef without the rice or even actually in a bun and in fact made them quite a large dish.
Now for my favourite dish… Sandi Maki Salmon, snow crab, filo shrimp tempura, togarashi, spring onion, house-made plum wrap. This was SENsational. This photo alone stirred a tonne of messages about where to get these spicy treats.
Gindara Shiitake Saikyo miso grilled black cod with shiitake mushrooms, edamame. This was served along side Vegetable Fried Rice with fresh seasonal vegetables and also Kale with Balsamic Miso Tofu, sunflower seeds Christmas Dessert Selection Chef’s selection. As is well documented, I am always a fan of a black cod in any form and this one is stylish and sweet with the addition of the mushrooms.
In addition to these items on the Christmas menu, they also have the likes of, Unagi (Eel) Kabayaki Chirashi, Issai Maki, Matcha Yaki Udon and Filo Shrimp Tempura Shots, erm yes.
Another popular hit is the Sushi jewel box.
The final dish (obviously) is dessert. We had a selection of the chefs favourites including Mochi Ice Cream, their take on a Christmas pudding, (which i appreciate is a n acquired taste for most) and finally their famous Terrarium Matcha Tiramisu. This really is worth all the fame that it has accrued and as well looking like a delicious dessert filled snowglobe, it also tastes wonderful. Tiramisu, cream and macha? What is not to like?
Oliver Maki is good for a couples dinner or a group of foodies. As I said at the beginning, this is a dining place rather than a clandestine password protected / dancing on the tables vibe. In a town that has a new restaurant opening (and closing) every month, it is nice to find one that is substance over secret doorways.