I have to admit something quite shocking. I didn’t try sushi until I was about 24 - super late to the party I know. I was visiting one of my best friends in London, he was a tennis coach and utterly obsessed with sushi as it was “pretty much the healthiest thing you can eat”. He was one of those health obsessed types and I was definitely more into cake than anything gluten-free. He took me to a little underground place in Soho, very authentic but a little dingy.
I didn’t warm to sushi during my first visit but fast forward six years and I’m a bit of a sushi addict, like much of London which explains the volume of Japanese restaurants across the city. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the newest Japanese restaurants in town – Murakami. Located on St Martin’s Lane in Covent Garden, it’s ideally situated on a quiet street in one of the busiest parts of London.
The interior has a very cool, contemporary vibe with stacks of natural wood and a 12 foot living plant wall. Coupled with dim lighting from oversized glass bulbs suspended from the ceiling, the look is modern without being cold and clinical; it actually feels quite intimate so great for lunch or a cosy dinner as well as a convenient and lively spot for drinks. The top notch cocktail menu was created by Shrub and Shutter, incorporating plenty of Japanese influences and whiskies.
Right so onto the food. The menu is incredibly extensive with a large selection of sushi created freshly at the sushi bar as well as tempura and delicious dishes from the robata grill. I was seated next to the sushi bar and was captivated by the chefs deftly whipping up delicious nigiri and sashimi dishes. I started with the popcorn tempura prawns which were absolutely addictive, the tempura batter was so fluffy and airy and the chilli and lime mayo was refreshing with a little kick, the perfect accompaniment. I’m not a huge fan of wings but the teriyaki and lime chicken wings were sublime, not overly sticky and very moreish. In terms of sushi, the green dragon tastes as good as it looks if not better while the spicy salmon with basil and yellowtail with jalapeno are flavourful with a little bit of sassy spice.
I need to call out the desserts which are sublime. The nutella and chocolate cheesecake was a little bite of heaven with each mouthful. Pro tip: It does very well with the pornstar martini.
Overall, the food was delicious, super light with subtle flavour and a dash of spice which delicately enhanced the flavour of the fish rather than being overpowering. I love tempura but a lot of places get it wrong, the tempura at Murakami was absolutely spot on, a testament to the expertise of the Japanese chefs. Despite the masses of Japanese restaurants in town, Murakami manages to carve out its own niche; New York cool with a delicious, varied menu which is affordable – this is my favourite new opening of 2015.