Japanese food has long been my favourite cuisine and it had forever been my dream to visit that beautiful other worldly country. Our trip to Japan last year was the realisation of that dream and I pinched myself when we ate the world’s best kaiseki dinners, had a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji fish market and tried street food in Osaka. Of all those incredible experiences the very best was dinner at three Michelin starred Kikunoi in Kyoto where I had the opportunity of meeting renowned chef Chef Yoshihiro Murata for the second time having only met him the week before at his London restaurant, Tokimeitē.
As someone that’s incredibly passionate about Japanese food this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and now Tokimeitē holds a very special place in my heart. For that reason, I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to try the new Joshu Wagyu Miso Marinated Ribeye Sumiyaki five course menu at the restaurant.
The design of the restaurant is very simple to the eye, a wooden counter with a view to the kitchen being highly reminiscent of restaurants in Japan. But the design means more than meets the eye, spanning three levels the aesthetic of the restaurant is actually inspired by Japanese crafts and festivals. Having eaten here before, I was already aware that Tokimeite is one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants specialising in Kaiseki, the highest form of Japanese cuisine.
I explained all about this traditional multi-course dining experience in my Kikunoi post but there is usually around 14 courses in the traditional dinner but at Tokimeitē adaptions have been made for the Western palate whilst still upholding many of the traditions of the Kaiseki. Serving this five course set menu is one such adaptation allowing for a taster of this stunning cuisine.
The five course menu begins with tofu served with soy Dashi jelly and it is utterly delicious. Poorly made tofu can be a little slimy but this was silky in texture with the dashi perfectly enhancing the subtle flavours.
The basket of appetisers was again, just like what you might receive in Japan and it reminded me of the kaiseki dinner that we had at Gora Kadan, a traditional ryokan in Hakone.
Each one of the appetisers was impeccable, the mackerel so perfectly fresh, lotus roots and prawn crisp and flavoursome and salmon tartare perfectly prepared. The highlight was perhaps the wagyu beef and egg which was a taster of what was to come.
The perfection of the cuisine is no surprise as Chef Murata, not only has three Michelin stars for Kikunoi but his other restaurant, Roan Kikunoi in Kyoto and Akasaka Kikunoi in Tokyo also each have two Michelin stars. This seven star chef is a third generation restauranteur and recognised as one of Japan’s finest chefs. Executive Chef Daisuke Hayashi has been at Tokimeitē since 2015 and is consistently inspired by Chef Murata to create his own dishes.
Watching the chef at work is all part of the experience here and I’ve always admired the minute detail that goes into creating a Japanese dishes. We chatted away to the chefs and I was gutted that I’d narrowly missed the opportunity to meet chef Murata for the third time as he had been at the restaurant only the day before.
The next dish was the pièce de résistance char-grilled miso marinated Joshu Wagyu Rib-eye steak with salad. The Wagyu beef is a speciality at Tokimeitē, and it is imported directly from Japan. This incredibly high quality meat can derive from any of four breeds of cattle that is fed on a special diet to produce this highly flavoursome beef characterised by the marbled fat. It is this fat that gives the meat that exceptional melt in the mouth quality that is quite simply out of the world. That being said it is also very rich so a small portion served with a simple salad is perfection.
Finally is chirashi sushi with mixed sushi rice and a mushroom miso soup. I think as Westerners we are used to having a rice dish along with a main course but in the Kaiseki dinner it is actually traditional to serve it at the end along with miso soup. You’ll notice the gorgeous ceramic dish that the rice is served in, which again reminded me of the beautiful pottery that we saw in Japan. Presentation is also meticulous when it comes to a kaiseki dinner and tableware is chosen to enhance the appearance and reflect the season of the meal. Just like in Japan, the attention to detail here is utterly impeccable.
Typical kaiseki desserts are small and light; a simple piece of fruit, serving of jelly or in the case of Tokimeitē, an ice cream or sorbet. That perfect light touch at the end, still beautifully presented and to not push you over the edge of fullness.
After dinner at Tokimeitē you can head up the road to another London institution and have a drink a sketch – famous for it’s pink dining room! The perfect place to end a wonderful date night.
I don’t think I need to say again how incredible Tokimeitē is – our five course meal was prepared meticulously with the very best ingredients in the real spirit of a kaiseki dinner. There’s very few places in London quite like it!
23 Conduit Street
020 3826 4411
We were guests of Tokimeitē for this review.