Japanese cuisine is having a moment, as people switch to healthy eating and embrace new flavours. One of the best Japanese restaurants in London, in my opinion, is Tokimeite. Located on upmarket Conduit Street, it’s a haven of calm in Mayfair. As soon as we stepped inside, we were warmly greeted by the maître d’ and his team. The restaurant is beautifully designed with stylish lighting and subtle decorative touches. They’ve recently launched their lounge bar, open from 11.30 pm to 1 am on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
I’ve been fortunate to experience Tokimeite before and was particularly impressed with the relaxed ambiance and gourmet cuisine. They are one of the rare places in London specializing in classic Japanese wa-shoku cuisine, to which they give their own contemporary twist. Our dining experience kicked off with a welcome signature cocktail. It had some unusual ingredients including cucumber, mint, Luxerdo, Hendrix gin, sugar and lime. It tasted very refreshing and the flavours blended together beautifully.
Tokimeite has an open kitchen, in fact the work-space is directly behind the bar. It was fascinating to watch the chefs working whilst we dined. They were busy chopping up ingredients finely – if only my knife skills were that good! It’s actually a great place to dine solo as the chefs chat to you whilst you’re eating.
Our first course was a pretty as a picture lobster carpaccio of lobster tail, vegetable crisps and edible flowers with a ponzu and yuzu dressing. Head chef Yoshihiro Murata has a grand total of 7 Michelin stars in his three restaurants in Kyoto and Tokyo. Tokimeite itself is worthy of a Michelin star and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gains one.
Next we sampled a moreish shrimp tempura, complemented by a shichimi and wasabi cream and topped with salsify crisps. These gave the dish an extremely satisfying contrast.
Tokimeitē is rightly known for its incredible wagyu beef, imported from Japan. We loved the tender wagyu tartare, finely diced and mixed with cucumber, poached quail egg flavoured in yuzu soy and shibazuke pickles.
Of course, no visit to a Japanese restaurant would be complete without sampling some sashimi and the three different kinds here most definitely didn’t disappoint – Paul loved the ginger too!
Our friendly sommelier suggested that we try something a little different to accompany our meal…a tasting selection of sake. I’d enjoyed the last sake that I tried here but was intrigued to see how this trio would work with the whole menu.
The first one that we tried was quite subtle and matched our fish dish very well.
Our sumiyaki salmon confit was one of my favourite dishes of the evening. Served on a miso basil purée with crispy salmon skin, it reminded me of miso cod but it had a flavour that was all its own. Perhaps it was umami, that elusive Japanese flavour considered to be a fifth sense in addition to sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
Tokimeite is well known for its traditional hot pots, cooked at the table. Wagyu sukiyaki is a feast of a dish, with wagyu beef served in a miso sauce and topped with black truffle. Diners can choose either Gunma rump steak or sirloin for their hot pot. The area of Gunma in Japan is close to Tokyo and famous for the quality of its beef, noodles and vegetables. Our hot pot was accompanied by Masumi sake – it’s one of the most renowned sake brands in Japan.
The grand finale was a delicious dessert of yuzu cheesecake on Japanese Monaka wafers, with home made strawberry ice cream. The wafer’s texture made a nice contrast with the delicate cheesecake and it was the perfect way to finish our meal. We tasted an unfiltered sake, Summer Snow by Kamoizumi with our dessert. Unlike some unfiltered wines which can be a bit rough and ready, this was a pleasant surprise with its mild and sweet aromas. I’d definitely recommend Tokimeite for its exquisite cuisine and charming welcome. The new lounge bar is set to be a hotspot on the Mayfair social scene so don’t hesitate to check it out!