Murakami, Covent Garden

While I always tend to be a bit wary of Google’s restaurant descriptions, I really can’t argue with “Japanese eatery for sushi, robata-grilled fare and craft cocktails in a sleek, designer space.” And although conveniently located for the pre-theatre going crowd, the recently revamped Murakami is much more than that and possibly one of the most authentic Japanese Izakaya style restaurants in London.

Izakaya is basically an eatery where you’re served an array of dishes (I’ll refrain from using the word tapas here) to accompany your tipple of choice whether it be Japanese beers, lagers, wine, whiskey or sake. Having experienced the real thing in Japan for myself, I can claim its authenticity with some level of conviction, although here what really matters is quality and flavour, which you get in abundance.

Our sushi starters of red wave roll (spicy tuna and cucumber, wrapped in more tuna with kizame wasabi & wasabi mayo) along with their signature aburi flame-seared tuna roll, were delicate, tasty, and fragrant with no scrimping on the fish either. The sheer difference in the size of sushi rolls in Japan will forever make me feel short changed anywhere else, but here it is close to the real thing.

Our side orders of grilled asparagus with spicy miso and particularly the popcorn prawn tempura (the name does not do it justice) with spicy yuzu mayo were also very welcome delicious additions to our starters.

For mains, we couldn’t resist selecting some prime beef from the robata grill which produced some stunning results. Firstly the grilled rib eye with soya, shitake, chilli and yuzu; gently charred slices of tender meat given a sweet yet spicy coating. It’s exceptional, only to be followed and upstaged by the wagyu beef with black truffle paste; a more European dish but also a great one.

Now perhaps the traditional Japanese fare goes a little off-piste with its extensive cocktail menu, but I was perfectly happy to swap the sake at the end of the night for a whimsically named “Wake me up before you Tok-yo”, giving a wink to the Japanese sense of humour and perhaps its obsession with Wham! Desserts were also on the more “creative” side with inclusions such as the Matcha cheesecake and cherry blossom macaroons, but all these digressions from traditional Japanese cuisine are forgivable given the dishes that had preceded them.

The dimly-lit restaurants interiors were also a firm nod to the Japanese style with a sleek and simple wooden affair lending itself well to all occasions; whether it’s a quick bite, a casual, intimate or celebratory dinner. So if you’re on the quest for good quality and affordable Japanese cuisine, you really cannot go wrong here.


63-66 St Martin’s Lane,

Tel: 020 3417 6966

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