We look forward to it every year, all the delicious food that comes hand in hand with Christmas time; juicy slices of turkey, sausages wrapped in bacon, brussel sprouts (or is that just me?) and crisp roast potatoes… Well I don’t know about you but after about five different Christmas lunches with various friends and family as well as a daily Christmas sandwich from Pret, I’m craving something different and lighter. Enter the alternative Christmas menu from UNI, one of our local favourites…
We discovered UNI about two years ago and we were incredibly excited to find a great restaurant near us in Belgravia that offered something a little different. Nikkei cuisine, a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese, has quickly become one of my favourites and now something I have often. Already big fans of the place, Mr S and I were excited to try their new alternative Christmas menu – no turkey or roast potatoes allowed!
Lunch kicked off in style with caviar served beautifully on ice in a silver platter on a mother of pearl spoon, along with a crisp and cold glass of prosecco.
We had the choice of three menus, a five course vegetarian (£30pp), a six course menu (£55pp) or the seven course deluxe menu (£70pp) with choices for some of the dishes though if you don’t fancy any of these, the full à la carte menu is available. I always believe, go big or go home and following that logic, we opted for the deluxe menu. Well it is Christmas…
To start there’s the option of regular edamame or spicy, both are great but choose spicy if you like a good whack of sauce on your beans and salty if that’s more suited to your palate.
First up was the yellow tail tiradito, the fish is thinly sliced much like sashimi but the spicy, citrus sauce gives it that Peruvian punch that’s just so full of flavour. It was a delicious and light way to kick off our meal and it was beautifully presented with delicate purple petals.
For us, tuna tataki is always a must order at a Japanese or Nikkei restaurant and we were pleased to see it on the set menu here. Perfectly seared and with a tangy accompaniment of ponzu sauce and a salty wakame salad, the dish was perfectly balanced and hitting all the right flavour notes in our mouths.
Cocktails are rather excellent too and Mr S chose a chilli mojito which included refreshing flavours of coconut while I loved my rose petal bellini. There’s plenty of Peruvian cocktails on the menu if you fancy a Pisco! And for Christmas there’s a special Pisco Negroni with Vermouth, Campari and orange peel.
Next on the menu is King Crab, and there’s the option of having it ceviche-style, grilled or tempura. Shunning the heaviest option we loved the ceviche with the citrus marinade, juicy crab and hunks of sweet potato. The marinade was so good you could just drink it all up at the end, which is actually a tradition in Peru as it also an aphrodisiac.
The grilled crab wasn’t quite how I expected, the fresh seafood was actually covered in a creamy, cheesy sauce with a slightly smoky taste. It was a really tasty, comfort food type dish and I loved the presentation in the individual boats.
Mr S and I big fans of UNI not only because the food is great but the atmosphere is also fantastic. Upstairs there is counter-style dining and sushi bar, and downstairs are some stand alone tables and two booths. It’s a small space and feels very intimate and romantic, quite perfect for a special dinner date.
For main course there’s another choice, and an easy one for me as I chose the miso black cod.
The silky flesh of the perfect cooked fish flaked apart perfectly under my fork and the taste was as smooth as butter, it’s no surprise that this is one of the signature dishes at UNI.
Mr S had the choice of teriyaki or anticucho flavouring for his Wagyu beef, he chose the latter Peruvian flavour with its mildly spicy marinade. It was a beautiful piece of meat, perfectly cooked, seasoned and flavoured but it could have done with being slightly warmer. I loved the spicy padron peppers and the sweet and spicy rocoto accompaniment though.
The deluxe menu offers a choice of desserts and we went ahead and ordered one each plus greedily adding the mochi from the vegetarian menu to our dessert order.
Strawberry soup with matcha ice cream is a great light option and I love the way the slightly acidic matcha blended with the sweet juicy strawberry.
And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without chocolate. And the chocolate fondant melted perfectly, hot molten chocolate complimented with a good scoop of home-made vanilla ice cream.
I never used to be huge fan on mochi but I was obviously not eating the good stuff as Mr S and I both loved mango and chocolate mochi at UNI and it was the perfect way to round off a fantastic meal.
I really couldn’t recommend UNI enough, we both absolutely love it and it’s the perfect Christmas choice if you’re looking to escape the typical turkey lunch!
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18a Ebury Street
We were guests of UNI restaurant on this occasion.