Murakami, London

1.28.2015

I seemed to be reviewing a lot of Japanese eateries lately. Japanese is not the only cuisine that I like. I mean I eat Chinese, French, Spainish and etc. Being Chinese, I am biased towards Asian food. It is what I grew up with so I tend to have more knowledge about it. Japanese food is not all about sushi but I am reviewing a sushi restaurant this time. There seems to be few new Japanese restaurants opened up in the past few months and the standards are fierce.

Located at the very convenient Covent Garden on St Martin's Lane is Murakami, a sushi and robata grill restaurant.  Modern décor overlooking a sushi counter on one side and the grill kitchen on the other side with loud music playing. I have to admit, the music did not really go with the theme of a Japanese restaurant. We asked if we could sit in front of the grill kitchen watching the chef in action, which the waiter kindly let us. Don't worry, you will not feel the intensive heat from the grill as it is separated by a glass wall. We were very hungry after ice skating and tiring so wanted to have a nice relaxing meal but it was disastrous.

Menu

The menu is mainly composed of grilled skewers and sushi with few small dishes to choose from.

Nigiri (salmon, salmon tataki, tuna, yellowtail) and Tuna Sashimi

Smoked Eel Nigiri

Me and Mr T didn't go crazy with the sushi, only ordered a small selection. The nigiri was average, fish was fresh and the eel was not bad. Tuna was a let down, it was too lean. I had better and I had worst.

Scallops Tartare with wasabi ponzu

Tiger Prawns Tempura

First time seeing scallops tartare as it is usually sliced into carpaccio rather than diced. The scallops are mixed with tobiko (flying fish roe, the small orange ball thingy) giving it a crunchy texture against the soft scallops. The hint of wasabi didn't come through the dish and I'm not too sure what that sauce they squirted on top, it didn't taste like ponzu. The tempura was the most disappointed dish of the night. I'm sorry, but how can you called that tiger prawns tempura. The size does not resemble to a tiger prawn more like a king prawn and the batter for it was totally wrong. It should be light and fluffy, not dough-like batter. 

Crunchy Asparagus with Sesame Seeds

Teriyaki & Lime Chicken Wings, Sweet Chilli Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken Hearts and Miso & Yuzu Marinated Pork Belly

Moving onto the robatayaki, grilled skewers. It was fun watching the chef grilling the food but it was overcooked. The asparagus was overly soft. The meat was dried and bland. We ordered the beef but got sweet chilli chicken instead, we kept it and ate it. The chef gave me an impression of confusion, didn't know when the skewers was done and kept basting it with sauce but somehow still came out dried.

If the food was tasty, I can compensate it with the faulty service. Neither the food or service was fine. The staff was not attentive at all, it was hard to get someone's attention, when you get one's attention and asked for something, they don't return. It took three waiters to bring the menu, tap water arrived after the nigiri were served. I don't know why, they only do 3/4 pint of a beer and not a full pint? We wanted green tea, but it was sold out (huh? but you're a Japanese restaurant, how can you sell out of green tea within the first week of opening?). When asking for the bill, that took forever too.

So much for the negativities, I really could not find a positive thing about the whole meal beside the décor. It is my honest opinion and I had one bad experience with the restaurant. We went during the soft launch period, it is quiet expensive for the full price menu given that there are many more better restaurants for similar price. We were still not full after the meal and ended up stocking up at Japan Centre. Murakami made an apology to me on instagram, I do hope both the food and service do improve before a second chance.

Score Rating: 2/5
Price: ~£40-50/head (50% soft launch, £53 for 2 people)

Murakami on Urbanspoon

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