After reading few reviews of The Ninth, the first solo project by Chef Jun Tanaka, I knew it would be a restaurant I would like and the perfect venue for lunch with Samanta Stewart, the blogger behind Food Expectations. I’d been reading Sam’s blog for a while and I already knew we’d have lots in common, but as we chatted through lunch we discovered even more similarities in things we liked and places we’d been.
The Ninth turned out to be a great restaurant to get to know Sam. The interior is cool and casual with the shabby chic, New York-style dining room look which is gaining in popularity. There is a bar as you walk in, exposed brick walls and dark wood which all lend to the relaxed environment and staff are attentive yet not obtrusive. The waiter explained that the menu is based on a sharing concept of French Mediterranean dishes using fresh seasonal produce.
From the raw and cured section of the menu we chose a sea bass carpaccio with salsa verde and pickled kohlrabi. I enjoyed the dish but I felt that there was too much sauce which took away from the delicate flavour of the fish. I also thought it lacked a hint of acidity which would have increased the depth of the flavour.
I preferred the razor clam ceviche which came in a simple marinade which didn’t mask the fresh taste of the fish. The accompaniments of samphire and tomatoes elevated this dish even further and, unlike the carpaccio, it had perfect levels of acidity.
Chef Jun Tanaka has worked in some of London’s top kitchen such as The Square and Le Gavroche and has been trained in French cuisine by renowned chefs Marco Pierre White, the Roux brothers and Philip Howard. But I remember first trying his cooking when he was Executive Chef at Pearl Bar and Restaurant. I had a fantastic meal back then but the cuisine at The Ninth is different to Pearl, more hearty than fine dining but still really wonderful.
Our larger main course to share was a whole sea bream with lemon and miso and smoked aubergine. The dish was the highlight of the meal, basically all my favourite flavours combined – I loved the perfectly cooked flesh, the crispy skin and the heady taste of the aubergine paste.
Our vegetable side dish, a fricassee of artichokes with onion, was the perfect accompaniment with just about the right amount of bite and a touch of butter for flavour.
Sam and I enjoyed The Ninth, especially the sea bream, and I’d be interested to come back and try some more dishes on the menu as the dinner menu seems to have much more variety.
22 Charlotte Street
020 3019 0880