I would usually associate this with the British tea drinking culture. With dainty scones, luxurious finger sandwiches and select beverages. All held in a carefully white tablecloth environment. Altogether a rather refined affair.
Japanese seemed to be the antithesis of English tea with its emphasis on minimalism and excellent but simple looking food. The setting prepared me for the same with carefully presented table culinary promising something different.
Kabusencha, tea leaves covered for 10 days to give elegant sweetness. Starting with the arrival of the tea. Rather fresh and light, it was a contrast to the sometime heaviness of the English variety of Earl Grey etc. With a light taste, it was a great preparation for the lighter (as compared to the British version) foods to come.
Although there is no pleasing everyone as my dining companion wasn’t that impressed at first glance.
Spider roll, deep fried crab rolls with spicy sauce. Interesting departure from the traditional with the brown rice. Carefully prepared ingredients finely chopped. However, the brown rice added an unusual touch for me. Perhaps appealing to the new Western generation but I prefer white rice (of varying grades) in my sushi. Although it was decent, perhaps it was something for others’ tastes.
Wagyu slider and crab croquette, premium Wagyu slider and deep fried crab croquette with home made bechamel sauce. I enjoyed the depth of flavour of the mini burger. The buttery crab croquette was generously packed with crab too. The full taste of both brought some delightful and pleasing weightiness to the meal, all served on particularly refined crockery.
Salmon tataki, lightly seared salmon with plum and cucumber dressing. Lightly seared not to impact on the smooth raw flavour, this was quickly gone as it was rather good. Although it begs the question what would their maguro (tuna) be like?
Chicken karaage, lightly battered fillets served with lemon and sun dried chillies. Excellent. Avoiding too much oil, crunchy, moist, juicy and satisfying. Perhaps they could provide some lessons to the fryers around London. Yet, on second thoughts, if they did that, I would be twice the man I am.
Beef teriyaki, grilled sirloin beef served with seasonable vegetable. A small little slice of beef which was pleasant, although overshadowed by the slider. Instead of a beef explosion of the slider, it was something different. A more cultivated dish.
Soya bean blanmage with black sugar syrup. A little finisher, sweet, delightful with body and some berries to add ready to be picked sweetness.
Chocolate gateau served with berries. Although I noted that the menu stated that there would be mochi ice cream and matcha sauce, it strangely absent. Perhaps a wasted opportunity as although the sweet and tart berries provided interesting counterpoint to the chocolate cake, perhaps a more radical change in texture and temperature might have delighted the senses more.
I was a bit surprised that the vast array of pastries, to which the Japanese are renowned for in Asia did not make an appearance. However, perhaps this is a good thing as this afternoon tea managed to straddle the line between something perhaps unrecognisable to western audiences and something a bit more familiar. They deserve much thanks though. As somewhere brave enough to show that there is more to Japanese food than sushi, curries or ramen. If you can’t make it to Japan, perhaps visiting Ginza Onodera might give you a hint of what you are missing.
A quieteating 8/10.
We were invited to review. Estimated costs is GBP29 excluding drinks and service.
15 Bury St, St. James’s,
London SW1Y 6AL, UK