London is embracing all things skewered and recently opened Junsei on Marylebone’s Seymour Place is certainly raising the bar. The elegant Japanese restaurant puts the spotlight on yakitori (meaning ‘grilled bird’), using every part of the animal, whilst also offering kushiyaki vegetable skewers, elevated donabe (rice) bowls and seasonal Japanese hot plates.
Chef Patron Aman Lakhiani’s in-depth understanding of Japanese cooking techniques and ingredients, gleaned from his training at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Sushi Academy and time at Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant, Dos Palillos in Barcelona, is in evidence in the expertly executed and grilled dishes.
All skewers are cooked over Binchōtan charcoal, a white variety made from Japanese oak considered the purest charcoal in the world. Burning at a high heat, meat cooks from the inside out resulting in succulent texture and a pure finish which emphasises the distinctive flavours of each part of the chicken.
The star of the show is the selection of zero waste, delicately grilled and beautifully seasoned yakitori. Choose from a myriad of dishes, utilising every part of the organic slow reared Suffolk bird, from breast and leg through to heart; crispy skin; wing, neck, tenderloin, liver and gizzard. Each yakitori skewer is precisely sliced and then coated in a house tare (a combination of aged soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar) or shio (salt), before grilling over the Binchōtan and gently caramelising.
Complementing the yakitori is a selection of vegetarian kushiyaki options, including shiitake mushrooms, soy-marinated quail eggs and fried tofu with ginger and spring onions. Beautifully presented sharing plates such as sea scallop with trumpet mushroom, miso mussels and A5 wagyu rib cap sit alongside chicken, sea bream or vegetable rice donabe, traditionally cooked in a Japanese clay pot.
Omakase, meaning “I’ll leave it up to you”, is the Japanese tradition of letting the chef take control of the entire meal. Few do this better thanLakhiani who’s only request is that guests expect the unexpected – pull up a stool at the counter and watch the chefs in action as they meticulously prepare and cook the dishes over flaming charcoal. Twelve courses including seasonal dishes and limited-edition skewers take diners on a voyage of gastronomic discovery with cocktail, wine and sake pairings also available for the full Junsei experience.
At lunchtimes, as well as the a la carte, diners can choose three skewers, a Donburi and a seasonal bellini for £25 per person, with a la carte mains starting from £12.
DRINK IT ALL IN
An extensive sake and shochu menu including Tamagawa “Red Label” Heirloom Yamahai Genshu, the only sake made by an English sake master, is accompanied by a Japanese-inspired cocktail menu, including Gin^2, a frozen City of London Gin Granita with a gin foam and lemon, or aBincho Sour, a Japanese whisky cocktail of whisky soda and house made plum syrup and jam created by General Manager, Rizwan Khan.
The smart yet minimalist interior features Japanese artwork, light oak flooring, grey leather chairs and brass finishes whilst the statement chef’s table, swathed in golden light, is the spot for foodies, allowing groups, pairs or solo diners to engage and interact with the Junsei chefs.
Junsei Marylebone – elevating the art of Japanese yakitori in London.
132 Seymour Place, London W1H 1NS
F: Junsei London I: @junsei_uk