The garish neon sign that beckons diners in to Kurobuta is more reminiscent of the entrance to an off-beat underground nightclub than a Japanese restaurant, but on entrance we found ourselves welcomed into an ‘izakaya’ style room, encompassing the kurobuta-casual ambience of a chic evening bar.
Kurobuta's guests are invited to gather around a long sharing-style wooden table adorned with hanging light-bulbs and fairy lights that stretches the length of the room – choice décor that transforms the luxury retailer into an intimate location that oozes nonchalance and cool.
Though the décor may be casual, ex-Nobu chef Scott Hallsworth's food maintains a refinement typically found in Michelin-starred establishments. Scott's menu is ever playful, divided into list like 'Snacks', 'Junk Food Japan', 'Something Crunchy', 'Significant Others' and, of course, Sushi.
While best known for his modern fusions of east and west, it is Hallsworth's more traditional offerings that stand out among the smaller dishes. The spicy tuna maki is beautifully presented and beautifully balanced: a sweet, sour, spicy and salty medley made in heaven, rolled in tempura crunchies which provide the textural layer so often lacking from sushi maki dishes.
With Nigiri like you've never had before, Tofu you'll never tire of and pumpkin tempura you'll dream about, Harvey Nichols' new residency is a treat indeed. The sashimi pizza might be a little greasy to warrant a second tasting, but its listing on the 'Junk Food Japan' menu should serve as a fair warning of that.
An abundance of sparkling sake is on offer to accompany the food: a welcome and elegant variation on the fearsome spirit's usual burning aftertaste. But no other beverage at Kurobuta can hold its own against the provocatively named 'Green Bastard': aloe-vera freshness in a cucumber infused gin based cocktail, it is the perfect palette cleanser, shining through in all its portentous luminosity.
The selection of food at the new Kurobuta doesn't cry any new flavours from those at its other offshoots – but with a formula that works, why risk breaking what isn't broken? The latest of Scott Halsworth’s hip Kurobuta restaurants is delicious as ever. It isn’t just strikingly innovative food that Scott is serving up, it’s a lifestyle. And we’re buying.
|What||Kurobuta, Harvey Nichols|
|Where||Harvey Nichols, 109-125, Knightsbridge , London , SW1X 7RJ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Knightsbridge (underground)|
06 Nov 15 – 04 Mar 16, Open now for a temporary stay on the Harvey Nichols fifth floor
|Website||Click here for more information|