Kurobuta – Marble Arch, London

As is the case with many restaurants these days, the food is “fusion” and the menu is “designed for sharing.” Whilst these terms are a tad cliche, when the food is so good, who really cares.

Kurobuta is located on Kendal Street off Edgware Road, understated and on its own amidst large residential blocks. In fact I don’t think it even says Kurobuta anywhere outside (I say this with some uncertainty as I haven’t had 20:20 vision since I was five and dinner with jo was at 5pm). It is unassuming on the inside also; quite large, dimly lit, simple wooden tables and not much decoration on the walls. The atmosphere was just right, buzzy yet relaxed and not too noisy.

Our waiter was very friendly and helpful, making recommendations as to which sake cocktail to try, how much to order and where to adjust the portion to suit a party of three.

I was happy with my sake caipirinha; for the fusion enthusiasts amongst you, note the fusion here of Japanese staple and Brazilian classic.

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One by one, our eclectic mix of dishes began to arrive. Edamame, so simple yet so full of potential, as evidenced here flamed with sake, butter, sea salt and lemon. Next the crunchy rice senbei crisps with avocado and jalapeño dip. This was a nice side dish (a cross between a prawn cracker and a rice cake) but not terribly exciting.

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We then had Jerusalem artichoke chopsticks with truffle ponzu sauce. These were really good; imagine the casing of a spring roll but thinner and longer filled with tasty artichoke and ready to dip in the sauce. Next came a salmon gravadlax and avocado tartar, which was one of the more basic items on the menu but very good quality.

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One of the highlights was the tea smoked lamb served with smokey nasu (aubergine) and spicy Korean miso. Luckily our waiter had pre-warned us this dish comes as two lamb cutlets so to order an extra half as none of us would have wanted to share these wonderful ‘no time for a knife and fork, just pick up and eat’ cutlets!

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The piece de la resistance. The tuna sashimi pizza with truffle ponzu, red onions and green chillies. This was spectacular, in terms of taste, contrasting textures and originality. Don’t think Dominoes, think delicate.

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Japanese mushrooms with Gorgonzola, miso and pine nuts. This was my least favourite (too cheesy) but not bad. Last but not least was a crispy skin duck confit with watermelon and spicy peanut soy. This was really excellent, I loved the flavour and the varying textures.

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The beauty of Kurobuta is the dishes are small so you don’t fill up and there is still room to sample the desserts. We picked roasted pineapple with shortbread, crumble and caramel (below right) and apple pie with creme brûlée (below left). Both were really great, who knew you could combine apple pie (albeit a sort of de-constructed apple pie) with creme brûlée!

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At £50 per head, including one cocktail, this is fairly pricey. It was excellent though, so if you feel like splashing out, head on down to Kurobuta.

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