We're all accustomed to Japanese cuisine and traditional sushi, sashimi, tempura and miso. But when Kurobuta opened a month ago serving japanese junk food, we were more than a little intrigued. Grazia's Emily Maddick went along to find out what the fuss was all about...
'Asian-fusion food seems to have been doing the rounds of culinary cuisine for yonks now, so news of a new establishment serving up such grub is usually met with a stifled yawn. Not so with Kurobuta, which serves Japanese junk food, or rather pub grub with a Japanese twist. ‘It’s like comfort food; Japanese shepherd’s pie, Japanese pizza,’ explained our waiter.
The flagship venue of Kurobuta in Marble Arch has been open a little over a month now, with an insanely popular pop-up version in the heart of Chelsea on the Kings Road. It is nearly impossible to get a table in the smaller Chelsea branch, so I booked a table at the Marble Arch venue instead.
First off, the venue. It’s cool. There wasn’t an orchid or a glass sculpture type thing in sight. Instead a rib shack-esque joint, although not too shacky with hanging light bulbs, pumping music (perhaps a little too pumping on reflection) with Manga-esque stickers randomly dotted around the place. Especially in the loos. A happy, vibey, fun place.
I never thought I would be able to rave about a humble serving of edamame beans as I have been since. Victoria Beckham (who reportedly lives off the low-calorie delicacy) should get David to sling some in a Sake marinade and grill them on the barbeque pronto, because dear god, Flamed Edamame with Sake, Lemon, Butter and Maldon Salt (£4) are the stuff of dreams. So good we ordered a second portion.
The dishes come like tapas, so no starter, main, pud situ here. The menu is very full and was perhaps a little overwhelming, so we asked for help and the most popular dishes. So in no particular order, the following was served up:
Salmon Gravadlax and Avocado Tartare with Dill Mayo, Rice Crunchies and Fresh Yuzu Zest (£11) - does what is says on the tin and the combo of Gravadlax and Rice Crunchies makes you feel like you’re combining childhood fun-cereal with posh canapés from your parents’ dinner party. It works.
Yellowtail Sashimi with Kizami Wasabi Salsa and Yuzu-Soy (£13) this was the most Nobu-esque dish we sampled. (The chef, Scott Hallsworth, was previously the head chef at Nobu London)
BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Spicy Peanut Soy (2 Pc Per Order) – The junk food theme is kicking in here and you’ve got the Japanese equivalent of a hot dog. It works. (£13) Ditto the Tuna Sashimi Pizza with Truffle Ponzu, Red Onions and Green Chillies (£9.50) – Dominoes Pizza this is not. But if Nobu made pizza, this is how it would be. Heaven.
Sadly, by this stage, the very large serving of BBQ Kurobuta Pork Ribs with Honey-Soy-Ginger Glaze (£15) utterly defeated me. And I was left staring in the face of some of the most delicious ribs I’ve ever tried. Had I a dog, he would have been delighted with a doggy bag.
Of course there was a enough room to squeeze in a selection of the finest sweet treats. And here things suddenly got terribly fancy and French-pastry-esque. Not really very junky at all, but beautiful and very, very sweet.
All this was washed down with fabulous cocktails and vino. Dinner for two including wine and sake should set you back £100 or so. Not quite your normal junk food prices, but then this is in no way your normal junk food.
Kurobuta London 17-20 Kendal Street, London, W2 2AW