A Surprising Omakase Tasting Menu – Yoshihiro Murata at Tokimeite

A Surprising Omakase Tasting Menu – Yoshihiro Murata at Tokimeite


Every so often, an invitation drops into my lap that I can’t refuse. Sampling Yoshihiro Murata’s cuisine was definitely one of those. This famous Japanese chef has 7 Michelin stars between his three Japanese restaurants, with three Michelin stars at Kikunoi Honten in Kyoto. His London restaurant, Tokimeitē is located on stylish Conduit Street, its discreet exterior is no hint of the culinary delights inside. It’s the result of a collaboration with celebrated designer Yasumichi Morita, who also designed Aqua Kyoto nearby and operated by Zen-Noh Group, the business arm of Japan’s largest agricultural cooperative, JA. Spread over 3 floors, it’s inspired by the elements of fire, water and wood and the lighting is superb. I was meeting up with Angie, who is currently in Japan and looking forward to visiting chef Murata’s Kyoto restaurant. We took our seats at the bar where we had a prime view of the action. In front of us, the chefs got busy preparing our 9 course feast.

tokimeite-chefs
They welcomed us with a cup of cherry blossom infused sake. I’m somewhat of a lightweight but this was a really palatable drink. Omakase was a new term to me – it means “I’ll leave it up to you” and so the menu was not revealed until the evening itself. I love a good surprise so this was right up my street.

tokimeite-sake
There was a full wine and sake pairing on offer, starting with a refreshing glass of Ruinart Brut Rosé Champagne.  With notes of cherry and red fruit, it’s made with a high proportion of chardonnay.

ruinart-rose-champagne
I wouldn’t have thought to match it with Japanese food but it worked perfectly with our first course, morikomi hassun mukouzuke. This included 5 types of perfectly fresh sashimi: salmon, scallop, seabass, tuna and yellowtail. The scallops were a delight, with a firm consistency outside and soft buttery texture on the inside. Tokimeitē  means butterflies in your stomach and I was definitely starting to get those!

tokimeite-fish
Chef Murata is an expert in preparing Kaiseki, a traditional Japanese dinner with multiple courses. Involving some serious knife skills and cooking techniques, it’s considered to be an art form in the manner that it balances flavours and colours. This dish was certainly colourful and a real joy to behold, with the serving dishes enhancing the overall appearance. Sashimi of butterfish and tai (red sea bream), wasabi, chrysanthemum petals, curled udo and carrot. I still cannot tell you what the jelly texture on the butterfish was but it was tart, soft and delightfully delicious.

tokimeite-mayfair-sushi
Our next course was futamano, a traditional clear soup, served in a lidded bowl. It was a light, flavourful dish that reminded me of bone broth.

tokimeite-futamano
Next we sampled yakimono, or flamed chargrilled king crab legs cooked in an aubergine sauce. This was a definite highlight, with the green vegetables and lotus root being a perfect accompaniment.

yakimono-london
We were then served another interesting palate cleanser, atsukebachi, grilled tofu and vegetables in a savoury sauce.

tokimeite-atsukebachi
This paved the way for our next dish, a second yakimono, or flamed grilled seafood. This was a beautifully seared salmon with seasonal asparagus. It may look like a lot of food, but thankfully the plates are a reasonable size and many Japanese practice hara hachi bu. This means that you only eat until you are 80 percent full. It gives many health benefits and assured longevity.

tokimeite-yakimono
The chefs had another palate cleanser up their sleeves, a strawberry sorbet with a crystallized strawberry on top and the surprising addition of wasabi – it certainly gave it a kick!

tokimeite-palate-cleanser
One of my favourite dishes was Yoshihiro Murata’s shiizakana signature dish,  wagyu beef with cherries that has first been clay-baked in salt. Whilst I did find the beef slightly salty, the meat was incredibly tender and you could definitely taste the notes of cherry. It was also a real pleasure seeing it prepared right in front of us.

shiizakana-tokimeite-lonodonChef Murata came to introduce himself – he’s utterly charming and clearly passionate about what he does. Having trained in France and learnt the techniques of French cuisine, he has since focused on accurately communicating Japanese cuisine to the world. He exudes a Buddha-like beatitude and I think it translates to his cuisine which is traditional yet innovative at the same time.

Yoshihiro-murata
After all this, we were getting to the 80% full point, but I couldn’t resist our final savoury course, a selection of sushi with assorted nigri and maki. It included the finest wagyu beef, which is unusual as part of a sushi selection but worked really well with the other elements of the dish. There was even a little paint brush to apply the soy sauce to the sushi with precision, giving it the appearance of an artist’s palette.

Tokimeite London
For dessert, we were given the choice between a matcha panna cotta, or my choice of Yuzu cheesecake on crispy Japanese Monaka wafers with a delicate green tea ice cream…

mayfair-japanese-restaurant
or Angie’s choice of apple tatin with caramel ice cream. Both dishes hit the right spot, though I think I preferred the latter after becoming addicted to tarte tatin whilst living in France!

tokimeite-dessert
We’d come to the end of our gastronomic journey, but I’d definitely return to taste Tokimeitē’s exquisite cuisine again – it’s my new favourite Japanese restaurant in London! Have you ever sampled omakase or Japanese food?

Tokimeitē, 23 Conduit Street W1S 2XS

chef-murata-luxury-columnist
I was invited to Tokimeite for the purposes of this review

  • Beauty Follower

    Such a beautiful food styling!

    Have a lovely new week dear 🙂

    http://beautyfollower.blogspot.gr/

  • Look how elegant that chandelier is.
    And the food! I would love to sample them. 🙂

    • I really liked the lighting, in fact it would be a good place for a first date, it was so flattering! As for the food – equally fantastic

  • I have never had any Japanese high cuisine! What an amazing opportunity you had to try these exotic dishes. I have heard of the 80% full rule. I’m sure that if I would apply it, the pounds would be falling off 🙂 Have a great week Suze!

    • That’s a good point, Japanese high cuisine in London is quite rare. I definitely need to stick to the 80% full rule if I can!

  • This looks amazing! If you’re ever in New York, I recommend Sushi Yasuda for an omakase. Sharing this!

    • Ooh thanks for the recommendation, I’d love to return to NY so will bear that in mind

  • Such a lovely night enjoying great food with you 🙂

    • It was a real treat and now I’m looking forward to reading how you got on in Kyoto

  • Mehreen A

    Everything looks really great, must check it out 🙂

  • This looks amazing, Suze. I love that Ruinart rosé as well, it’s a total house favourite for us.

  • Agness

    I’ve experienced traditional Japanese food when I went to Japan last summer – macha tea, sushi and various noodle soups. Everything super healthy and yummy! 🙂 Your food examples also seem so yummy! <3

  • ♫ Alison M ♪

    I would love to go to a Japanese restaurant. This looks lovely, so nice to see the food prepared

    • It makes all the difference, seeing the food prepared and those chefs had serious knife skills!

  • Wow what a fantastic experience! I love sitting at counters and watching meals being prepared in front of you – the Yakimono looks delicious and the duck with cherries clay baked in salt sounds interesting. I will definitely add Tokimeite to my never ending restaurant list 🙂

    • I think you’d definitely enjoy it – feels like you’ve travelled all the way to Japan without leaving London!

  • Japanese are literally the best chefs and I love the fact that they cook delicious and healthy food. I do visit the Japanese restaurants in my country and you look amazing as always!~!
    http://www.fashionstylemogul.com

    • That’s a good point, it’s so healthy – if only I ate like that more often! Thanks for the compliment, so kind

  • An art indeed! The food not only looks and sounds incredible, but so is the presentation! In Brooklyn, NY, there are a number of restaurants of different sorts that prepare your meals in front of you, which I always enjoy. You get to see everything that goes into preparing and making your dish and it’s nice to watch all of the techniques the chief uses, too! Thanks for sharing, lovely, and I hope you’re having a great start to your week Monday so far!

    XO,

    Jalisa
    http://www.thestylecontour.com

    • Ooh Brooklyn is probably my favourite area of New York. I’d love to return and will definitely ask you for some tips if I do!

  • Everything looks incredible from the sake to the desserts! I can’t imagine the flavors that must have been bursting in your mouth. This is an experience to treasure! Fantastic post!

    http://Leftbankgirl.blogspot.com

  • The food looks absolutely delicious! I loved our trip to Japan last year and completely fell in love with Japanese cuisine ♡

    • I’d really like to visit Japan, take a bullet train and see the cherry blossom!

  • Japanese is one of my favourite cuisines in London! I’ve passed by Tokimeite quite a few times and having had a read of your review, looks like I really need to go in next time! Seems like such an exciting dinner – I love the surprise element 🙂 xx

  • I love that the menu was a surprise until you got to the restaurant! And that salmon looks so delicious!

    http://thecourtneydiaries.com

  • Thanks for explaining the term ‘Omakase’ and as always, my eyes are drawn to the dessert – such lovely presentation 🙂 I’ve no doubt it was a fab experience!

    aglassofice.com x

  • It looks just divine Suze, not surprised you couldn’t resist the invitation! I used the term “omakase” a lot when I was in Japan last month – it took the hassle away out of the language barriers when ordering in the authentic restaurants and consistently yielded great results!

    • That’s a brilliant tip, as long as you didn’t get any unpalatable surprises 😉

  • Oh yum- what a decadent night out!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

  • Omakase sounds brilliant – I hate having to make decisions! 😉

  • WOW WOW WOW! Realy want to visit Tokimeite and even more so now after seeing all their delicious dishes. The duck sounds right up my street, as do the desserts and generally everything! Lots of love, Andrea xxx

    • The duck was wonderful and a really theatrical experience watching the preparation!

  • This looks amazing – traditional with a twist! I also adore tasting menus!

    Erin xx
    islandbell.co.uk

  • Lucy

    Oh wow what an invitation. The cherry blossom infused sake and duck sounds wonderful. Actually all the food looks so beautiful. Glad you had a wonderful time Lucy x

  • I’m trying to figure out how I missed this post. The duck sounds absolutely amazing and the desserts.. we won’t even discuss those because I’d want some for myself lol. What an invitation.

    Kia / KTS
    http://www.houseofkts.com

  • Angie SilverSpoon

    It was such a fantastic meal!!