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48 | squaremeal.co.uk

new openings

Engawa

Unit 4, 2 Ham Yard, W1D 7DT

020 7287 5724 Price £72

Space in London is at a premium, and bijou

Japanese newcomer Engawa certainly re� ects

that fact. This 31-cover eatery is the   rst UK

venture from the Japan-based Salt Group

and it's been designed as a showcase for

melt-in-the-mouth Wagyu - particularly its

super-premium version, Kobe beef. Engawa

claims to be the only UK restaurant to

import the whole Kobe cow, and it o† ers the

delicacy in numerous forms across its menus.

The dimly lit restaurant resembles a giant

bento box, with neat demarcated sections

and an open kitchen running almost the

whole length of the room. While you might

THE LAST WORD The space is small but super-prime

Japanese beef gets the multi-faceted showcase it deserves here

THE LAST WORD A fascinating sushi experience from a

Japanese legend that justi� es the stratospheric price tag

be knocking knees

with your date,

there's plenty to

distract as intricate dishes are brought to the

table by attentive sta† . Lunch is a relatively

simple a† air, while dinner comprises three

tasting menus to suit all appetites and pockets.

The crowning eight-course spread (£100)

opens with two appetisers, including a

standout plate of Kobe with a fresh, zesty

ponzu jelly, ahead of the day's tempura: when

we visited, it was a deliciously crisp morsel of

shrimp and asparagus with sharp kumquat

squeezed on top. A beautifully presented tray

of sashimi follows, before two more Kobe

courses - don't miss the version with sweet

soy sukiyaki dressing, its earthy sweetness

matching the richness of the beef.

After that comes a platter of

sushi - our tuna nigiri with fried

rosemary leaf was a revelation

with its pronounced herbal lift. Lastly, there's

a whizz-bang fondue dessert, consisting of

rich tofu cheesecake with seasonal fruits

and an unusual-sounding green-tea and

white-chocolate dipping sauce adding

complex sweetness to proceedings.

The drinks list is saké-focused, with tasting

� ights for curious imbibers. Cocktails are

worth exploring: the yuzu saké   zz, a slightly

sweet number, is perfect as a post-prandial

libation. At Engawa, small really is beautiful.

WINE LIST

The impressive saké selection at Engawa is

backed by a short, pricey wine list. There's

little choice under £30, but on the plus side

there are enough dependable names from

around the globe to ensure you won't be

disappointed if you do decide to splash out.

BEST BUY Planeta Dorilli 2012, Cerasuolo

di Vittoria Classico, Sicily, Italy, £54.

The Araki

12 New Burlington Street, W1S 3BH

020 7287 2481 Price £375

When Japanese sushi master Mitsuhiro

Araki decided to open an outpost in

London, he shuttered his three-Michelinstarred

restaurant in Ginza and moved

the whole sushi-ya to Mayfair for the

foreseeable future. It's cause for great

celebration - particularly as Araki is

running the whole shebang in person.

The Araki is a small, simple space,

dominated by a perfectly smooth cypresswood

counter - although you will be very

lucky to experience what it has to o† er.

Bookings are limited to nine covers twice

a night (plus six in a private dining room),

and the entry point is sky high: expect to

pay £300 a head before drinks, plus a 15

per cent service charge for the master's

omakase menu (the only option available).

Mr Araki does traditional Edo-style

sushi, and he's known for his tuna, which

he sources from Ireland and Spain. His

experience of ageing, marinating and

preparing the   sh makes it the most

fascinating aspect of a meal here - from

a boldly seasoned, tru˜ e-laced tartare to

a succession of nigiri including akami red

meat, chu-toro and o-toro atop   rm-grained

rice. Other highlights include delicate

red snapper and seaweed soup, gently

steamed French abalone with contrastingly

soft, sweet Scottish scallops, and almost

buttery grilled yellowtail enlivened by its

seven-hour soy and yuzu marinade.

Dishes are served on antique and

bespoke ceramics, each piece lovelier than

the last, while classic wines and saké come

in similarly   ne glassware (the sparkly pink,

3 more…STANDOUT SUSHI

Koji

020 3463 0396

M Raw

020 3463 9520

Uni

020 3544 0805

crystal saké � ask is particularly covetable).

Araki is generous with his luxurious

ingredients, but the experience isn't

only about what goes on the plate. It's a

performance, an absorbing one-man show

in an intimate space to which diners are

granted privileged access. Viewed as such,

the two-hour show is 'worth the money' -

even if it's strictly for experienced,

deep-pocketed sushi a  cionados.

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