Sushi, in its current form, originated in the 1820s in Tokyo and was developed as a street food concept for proletarians who were seeking a quick lunch option.
Fast forward to today and sushi or “washoku”, (meaning “Japanese cuisine”) has gained immense popularity by captivating diners from around the world, with its stunning artistic presentation, high quality ingredients and its renowned nutritional benefits.
One such purveyor of Japanese fare that has been enrapturing locals and tourists on St Martin’s Lane in the West End is Murakami. The restaurant exudes contemporary chic and is designed to represent the five elements of Japanese philosophy with its clean sharp tones of grey, natural wood and a lush green grass wall, which all combines together to envoke a sense of serenity.
The menu offers Izakaya style sharing dishes, plus a number of extravagant creations that are sure to excite any food connoisseur.
Please note that only the Lamb Rack is halal, which Murakami can provide a halal certificate for upon request. The Lamb Rack is stored and prepared separately.
Our Japanese food jaunt began from the “Starters and Salad” section of the menu, where we ordered the “New Style Sashimi”, which was salmon seared in hot oil with yuzu soy and mixed cress. The raw salmon was astonishingly superb. The fish was fresh, with no trace of a pungent piscine taste. The yuzu was sharp, tangy and citrucy with a gentle sour kick that was devastatingly divine. – Recommended
From the “Murakami Signature Rolls” we first opted for the “Spicy Mango Rolls”, consisting of prawn tempura, avocado, mango and spicy mango sauce. While the dish was satisfying, the flavours were too subtle for it to be memorable. – Worth a Try
The “Soft Shell Crab Roll” was crab with avocado, tobiko, lettuce and spicy mayo that was wrapped in mooli. This was a sensational dish. The lightly battered crab provided a crispy and moreishly delicious taste, the tobiko (fish roe) delivered a mildly smokey and subtly salty bursts of elixir, which combined with the creamy avocado and spicy mayo tantalised our taste buds to euphoric heights. – Highly Recommended
Finally we tried the “Volcano Roll”, which was deep fried tempura, with salmon, tuna, yellowtail, tobiko, avocado and spring onion. Once again, another exceptional dish that synergised different components together to deliver an explosion of tastes that brought rapture and jubilation. – Highly Recommended
From the “Aburi Roll” section, we opted for the “King Roll”, which comprised of flame and Japanese charcoal seared roll with tempura prawn, aioli, avocado and tobiko. It was astounding to watch the head chef blow torch the sushi while infusing it with charcoal to provide a smokey taste. Piquantly, the flavours were slightly too subdued for our taste, but the spectacle of watching the chef’s skilful technique at preparing the dish was sheer pleasure. – Worth a Try
From “Hot Plates and Soups” we chose “Popcorn Tempura”, which was shrimp tempura with spicy yuzu mayo. The sumptuous meaty shrimps were coated in a light, crispy batter, which was joyfully void of any trace of greasy oil. The yuzu mayo was scintillatingly sharp and tangy, with a heat infused sapid aftertaste that was truly gratifying. – Highly Recommended
For the main course from the ‘Robata Japanese Grill” section we ordered the “Black Cod Saikyo”, which composed of marinated black cod on saikyo miso with mango salad on the side. This was a magnificently majestic dish. The black cod, renowned to be rich in omega-3 fats, was silky smooth and buttery in texture. The creamy white flesh married perfectly with the sweet and almost caramelised taste of the saikyo miso. – Highly Recommended
We also ordered the only halal meat option available, which was the “Lamb Rack” with sweet soy sauce. The chops had a chargrilled outer layer, but were succulently tender in the middle. The seasoning was minimal, but a line of rock salt is provided, so to temper the dish to the diner’s taste. However, ultimately the dish relies on the lamb’s natural umami flavour. Overall, a pleasant dish that satisfied our carnivorous cravings. – Recommended
To end our meal, from the “Dessert Selections”, we were presented with a “Chocolate Fondant”, which contained matcha chocolate and was accompanied with vanilla ice cream. The dessert was gooey, rich and tea scented. Undeniably a delightful dessert, but not as decadent as our other experiences with matcha chocolate fondants. – Recommended
In recent years, there has been a growing abundance of restaurants in London offering dishes from the Land of the Rising Sun. But as the number of eateries serving Japanese fare increases, the more difficult it becomes to find the good restaurants from the midst of all the mediocre ones. Murakami irrefutably falls into the former category.
As with most restaurants, there are still some scope for amelioration. Nonetheless, Murakami offers a trendy and fashionable setting to enjoy classical and creative washoku cuisine that will convert the non-sushi lovers and bolster the passion for veteran washoku worshippers.
*Disclaimer: We were invited to review the restaurant.