Matsuri St. James has some of the best Japanese food in London. It’s a stones throw from the Ritz, and in my experience is one of the most authentic Japanese places to dine in the UK.
The dining area is situated in the basement, and is full of hibachi (grill) tables. I opted for the Matsuri course menu, which had a little bit of everything. We started off with some seasonal appetisers – a delicate salmon tartar flavoured with yuzu, a Japanese citrus. Yuzu is used frequently in Japanese cuisine – while it looks like an orange grapefruit in appearance, it’s slightly more lemon/lime-like in flavour, but without some of the tartness.
Followed by a chicken appetiser with leeks, and a clear broth soup, or Dobin Mushi, served in a teapot. Dobin Mushi is a clear broth, flavoured with matsutake mushrooms, limes, chicken, shrimp and soy sauce.
Given a choice between raw food and fried, I will always go for the raw option, and had sashimi while the others had tempura.
For the main course we were given a choice of lobster with black cod, fillet or sirloin steak, which is cooked in front of you on the hibachi tables. I went for a sirloin steak, barely seared and as rare as possible. It was exquisitely flavoured and seasoned, and was accompanied by a side of rice and a wasabi mayonnaise sauce.
All the flavours of Matsuri were quintessentially Japanese – delicate and complex, and without the clumsy seasoning of the fake-Japanese chains you are frequently served in London. It was all delicious, and presented beautifully (bonus points from me). To finish off a perfect meal, I went for a kinako (soybean flour) ice cream, while others opted for the green tea (matcha) tiramisu, or something called a dragon ball, which seems to be ice cream which has been set on fire.
It is always an absolute pleasure to dine at Matsuri St James and this time was no exception!