It is a well-known fact that there is no shortage of trendy Asian restaurants in London. There is, however, a shortage of trendy and affordable Asian restaurants serving generous and satisfying portions of delicious modern Japanese food in a friendly, easy-going and casual setting – and Kurobuta is just that.
If, like us, you have enjoyed many afternoons of walking up and down the King’s Road without noticing this little place – you would be forgiven. Kurobuta is a hidden gem – it doesn’t have anything outside indicating what it is so unless you already know about it, you’re unlikely to even know it was there. Yet when you step inside, you’ll find the place bustling with people all wanting a taste of Kurobuta’s modern Asian fusion “post Japanese” cuisine.
We were greeted with aromatic smells wafting from the open-plan kitchen, offering us a taste of what was to come. The restaurant has an urban eclectic vibe with chrome lights dangling from the ceiling and an open-plan kitchen with a central bar area adding to the buzzing atmosphere.
We were seated at a little table near the window and ordered two of their infamous Green Bastard cocktails – a refreshing blend of Hendrick’s gin, Midori (a Japanese melon liquer), lime juice and cucumber – a perfectly soothing and cooling concoction.
It was near impossible to decide what to have as practically everything on the menu cried out to be sampled! Our friendly and helpful waitress talked us through the different dishes and suggested starting with five or six dishes to share between the two of us – most plates are small and better shared (think of it like Japanese tapas). She advised not to go for sushi but to instead try something a little more adventurous – we didn’t need telling twice!
We started with Flamed Edamame with Sake, Lemon, Butter and Maldon Salt (£4.00) whilst we waited for our first dish, the Yellowtail Sashimi with Kizami Wasabi Salsa and Yuzu-Soy (£13.50) – a beautifully delicate dish, with a light, refined dressing. We moved on to the satisfying Beef Fillet Tataki with Onion Ponzu and Garlic Crisps (£11.00), followed by the BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Spicy Peanut Soy (£13.00) which is Japanese style street food and came highly recommended; juicy pork belly cocooned in steamed buns with a decadent sticky spicy peanut soy sauce to pile on top. For those who find pork belly a bit too fatty, we recommend they try the Wagyu Beef Sliders instead which come with Crunchy Onions, Pickled Cucumber and Umami Mayo, served in Steamed Buns (£19.00). My favourite dish of all would have to be the Tuna Sashimi Pizza with Truffle Ponzu, Red Onions and Green Chillies (£11.00), the “pizza” is lighter than a cracker and merely provides a platform for the incredibly fresh topping of juicy tuna sashimi drizzled with truffle sauce.
We left Kurobuta feeling comfortably full and suitably inspired by their refreshingly different take on Japanese cuisine. A relaxed and casual dining space which doesn’t compromise on the high standards of upmarket Japanese cuisine, it has since become our go-to place for Japanese tapas style food, and one of our favourite restaurants in Chelsea.