Umu is a Michelin star restaurant dedicated to bringing an authentic slice of Kyoto dining to London. It’s on the larger side compared to some of the other hidden treats we’ve highlighted, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as committed to traditional cooking techniques. Umu’s speciality is their Kaiseki menu, which combines Japanese flavours with British produce such as Mukozuke made from Scottish langoustine and Hashiyasume with Cornish squid. Plus, of course, impeccable sashimi.
Where: 14-16 Bruton Place, Mayfair, W1J 6LX
Yashin follows in the vein of traditional sushi bars, which means it only has seating for around eight to ten customers. Although, having embraced the modern world, they also offer to prepare your sushi to take away, meaning they’re not quite so limited in terms of covers as say, Sushi Tetsu. Completing the authentic experience, you can watch the chefs prepare the Omakase right in front of you, so it’s worth persevering for a table. It beats watching the same on YouTube while you eat at home.
Where: 1A Argyll Road, Kensington, W8 7DB
While there are many sushi bars that lean into the stereotypical Japanese aesthetic, Ikeda follows a contemporary approach to décor. They focus on simplicity, allowing the food and aromas to fill the space. Whether its their tuna sashimi, grilled black cod, or even wagyu steak, there are many traditional dishes available. It also happens to be the go-to sushi restaurant of superstars like George Clooney. It’s saying a lot then that the fish is the real star.
Where: 30 Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 5DJ
Sushi Tetsu is the epitome of a hidden gem. A tiny seven seater sushi restaurant that feeds just 70 customers per week – as you can imagine getting a reservation is a matter of both dedication and luck. It’s the project of Toru Takahashi, formerly of Nobu, who is by all accounts an incredibly friendly chef who enhances the experience to unparalleled degrees. As for the food, the Omakase of sushi and sashimi earns Sushi Tetsu a frequent place among the top restaurants in the world, let alone the top sushi places in London.
Where: 12 Jerusalem Passage, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4JP
Bookings: 020 3217 0090
Considering that many Japanese restaurants have strict rules on etiquette and behaviour, Sumi has a reputation for being slightly more relaxed with a friendly atmosphere. In fact, that atmosphere has been created on purpose to provide a foil to Sumi’s sister restaurant, which just so happens to be Endo at Rotunda (read more on the next page). It recontextualises the cuisine, prepared in similar styles, presenting it as a high-end neighbourhood eatery as opposed to the height of Michelin star fine dining. There’s the same attention to detail in the good, you can just talk above a calm hush.
Where: 157 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, W11 2RS
Endo at the Rotunda
The old BBC Television Centre might not be where you expect to find premium sushi, but since the building went private in 2012 it has been renovated into a series of offices, flats, hotels, and restaurants. When it comes to the latter, one of the best is Endo at Rotunda, a restaurant that specialises in Omakase. For those unfamiliar, Omakase is the Japanese equivalent of a tasting menu with the dishes chosen by the chef and regularly updated. Endo explores this traditional concept over 20 courses with a price of £225.
Where: 8th Floor, The Helios, Television Centre, 101 Wood Ln, Shepherd’s Bush, W12 7FR
Kazu on Charlotte Street is the restaurant of Dham Kodituwakku (Kodi), the former head chef of Mayfair’s Chisou, another topflight sushi restaurant. Kodi’s specialty is seared sushi as he has mastered a personal style of cutting fish that suits the dish particularly well. Kazu also has a reputation for not skimping out on the serving sizes or sauces, which some high-end places are notorious for, so be wary of picking everything on the menu (tempting though it is) and finding your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
Where: 64 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 4QD