London isn’t short of great Japanese restaurants and Murakami, which occupies a prime position between Leicester Square and Covent Garden, aims to compete with some of the best. The restaurant, which opened earlier this year, describes its style of cuisine as izakaya – an izakaya being a traditional kind of relaxed Japanese eatery where food is served alongside drinks.
The interior is sleek, modern and spacious, while the cocktail menu playfully proffers Japanese-inspired twists on the classics. Who could resist a Yakitoria Old Fashioned, made with Nikka blended whiskey and the restaurant’s own sweet and salty Yakitori sauce, or a Negative Negroni, with a mix of gin, bittersweet Kamm & Sons aperitif and Akashi-Tai Honjozo sake? As for the food, the plates are small so it’s best to order a selection and share.
Highlights included a tasting plate of sushi rolls, popcorn shrimp tempura with a spicy yuzu mayo and the soft-shell crab tempura. A nasu dengaku dish – grilled aubergine with saikyo miso – from the traditional robata Japanese grill, fell slightly flat due to an unfortunately cloying sauce, but the chicken gyoza dumplings were utterly addictive and perfectly crisp.
Murakami, 63-66 St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4JS, +44 (0)20 3417 6966