There’s something about food that looks as good as it tastes that is just so incredible. A feast for all the senses; pretty as a picture and a total taste sensation. Which is exactly what you’ll get at Oliver Maki, a stylish Japanese fusion restaurant in Soho.
Mr Silver and I had visited Oliver Maki before, back in February when it first opened, and we were excited to be invited back to try the new menu. Kicking off with a cocktail I chose the Oliver Fizz with prosecco and gin, and Mr S opted for a stronger Asian-inspired drink.
We always love getting started with some edamame beans and here they’re unlike any I’ve had before. With a delicate coating of spice and a sprinkle of sea salt, we loved the flavour and texture of the beans.
Next, a perfectly prepared canapé of tuna sashimi topped with olive, capers and zest to give it just the right balance of saltiness and citrus. At Oliver Maki, rather that serving standard soya sauce, there’s a rather elegant dipping sauce served by pipette, a mixture of soy sauce, olive oil and five spice providing unique and innovative twist. But there’s actually a bigger story behind the olive oil. Oliver Maki London is the fifth restaurant by the brand, and the first outside of the Middle East. Founded by Lebanese-Canadian Oliver Zeitoun, whose family comes from a long tradition olive grove farmers – their last name even means olive!
Next came some beautifully presented curls of yellowtail sashimi with a light sprinkling of earthy truffle balanced out by the deliciously tangy yuzu that had been lightly drizzled on the plate.
The restaurant itself has a small amount of seating down stairs and a larger dining room upstairs. The aesthetics are fairly minimalist but tree symbols on the mirrors are also a link back to Zeitoun family heritage of olive grove farmers. Another clever twist is the use of iPads rather than paper menus, I’m aware this might not please everyone but Mr S and I both liked the fact that you could click on a dish for a more detailed description and in many cases a photo.
Our next dish were unagi or eel tacos, a suggestion from the chef that I may not have necessarily chosen from the menu but I’m so glad we tried. The eel itself had a slight crisp, sweetness on the outside and succulent inside with a good drizzle of high-quality mayonnaise. A squeeze of lime gave them that added kick that lifted the flavours even further.
The menu at Oliver Maki isn’t purely Japanese and food from other cultures is integrated into the list. A new dish since our last visit was the Bloody Ceviche, two shots of a spicy Bloody Mary mix paired with a ceviche of mixed fish including tuna, salmon and scallop in a perfectly tangy tiger’s milk. Being ceviches lovers, the perfect hunks of fish were soon polished off by Mr S and I and we drinking the marinade at the end.
Oliver Maki isn’t really for sushi purists, instead the chef interprets traditional dishes in different ways to offer innovative flavours and presentation. This sushi platter, a take on Chirashi, reminded me of a Christmas wreath and beautifully prepared brown rice is adorned with salmon, draped with avocado, dotted with crab and caviar and flowers are added for a final flourish. Taste and flavour were absolutely perfect for me but I loved the unique presentation too.
Next some vegetarian dishes; home made green tea noodles with mixed mushroom were a real highlight of the meal for me. I probably should have held back to save some room for what was to come but I just loved the comforting warmth of the soft noodles and the umami flavour of the mushroom.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mr S so keen to eat kale but we both loved the healthy dish mixed with tofu. The sweet butternut squash with bonito flakes and sesame was also tasty and I’d recommend it as a side dish perhaps alongside one of the restaurant’s other hot dishes.
Next it was time to try some of the signature maki rolls that gives the restaurant its name. The Sandi Maki, was a very inventive concept, unusually organic plum for the wrap rather than the usual nori seaweed. We loved the perfectly cut salmon tartare and the surprising crunch from the tempura prawn inside the roll.
The honey-go-cheese maki roll was our only disappointment of the day. Goats cheese wrapped in sushi rice, topped with sun-dried tomato and drizzled in the honey with pink pepper corns; I knew from the description I wasn’t going to like it and I definitely don’t think cheese sushi works. Also the addition of the honey made it far too sweet to pair with the other savoury dishes.
We replaced it with the Oliver Maki which is tasting of different rolls with alternating toppings, the seemingly less complicated dish was much more enjoyable. It’s actually eight different rolls in one, with thirty different ingredients, making it pain-staking to prepare.
Throughout the tasting menu, our waiter had given us excellent and personal service and he suggested a taster of yuzu sake just before dessert.
At this point was were lucky enough to meet the restaurant’s new chef, Tommy Blackshaw, who honed his sushi making skills at two of my favourite London restaurants; Aqua Kyoto and Chotto Matte. With his passion for sushi and high-quality ingredients, Tommy is excited to be developing new dishes for the restaurant and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s yet to come.
Desserts are an Instagram-dream and this Chocolate Garden was picture perfect. Smooth chocolate mousse topped with crunchy chocolate ‘soil.’ Growing in the glass were a caramelised carrot, sweet edamame beans, a macaron mushroom, a beetroot crisp and a cute chocolate caterpillar. The great thing about Oliver Maki is that it’s not style over substance just as much care is put in to the presentation as in the flavour so that your eyes can have a banquet as delectable as your mouth.
The Terrarium Matcha Tiramisu is set to become an iconic dessert in London and I found it so interesting how the chef used Matcha flavours rather than coffee to transform this dessert. I loved the take on the Italian classic which is praise indeed coming from someone who adores coffee and isn’t fan of matcha. I really liked the presentation in a greenhouse with the clever moss and chocolate rocks.
Mr Silver and I loved Oliver Maki, both for the innovative dishes and the beautiful presentation. I highly recommend it!
PIN FOR LATER:
33 Dean Street
020 7734 0408
Our lunch at Oliver Maki was complimentary.