A recent visit to Murakami reminded me why Japanese cuisine is one of the most popular dining options amongst the food-loving general public. They have such a varied, distinct and appetising cooking styles: from the raw freshness of sushi to the crunchy power of the tempura to the hearty dishes from the robata grill. Thankfully all these dishes are on offer at Murakami. It is an Izakaya-style Japanese restaurant, where informal, relaxed food is created to match with fine beers, whiskies and other imbibing options.
The interior has the kind of inviting, peaceful look with light-coloured wooden furnishings and soft-pastel couches that just puts you at ease the moment you want into the room. There is a soothing green living wall at the back of the restaurants which looks suspiciously like small bundles of broccoli but they are in fact living green moss.
For starters, we tried the yellowtail carpaccio and softshell crab roll. The yellowtail was decent in terms of freshness but it wasn’t quite as buttery as hoped and the yuzu soy and chilli all tasted quite mild. The softshell crab was more substantial and contained crunchy fried crab along with punchy flavours from the spicy mayo and was unusually wrapped in mooli to give the dish great textural variety.
If you are a truffle fan, then ordering their Wagyu beef is a must with rich notes from the truffle butter and black truffle paste matching well with the palate-coating richness of the meat. The staff were accommodating enough to cook the beef to almost well done as preferred by my guest rather than the suggested medium rare (although I do try and find a corner to hide whenever he mentions well done and beef in the same sentence).
You don’t always find a grilled octopus dish in Japanese restaurants in London. Their version here is well-charred and meaty tasting and it does have a refreshing citrusy kick from the lime used. However, the Asian pesto did taste quite mild and is a dish that could have done with stronger, sturdier spices.
I am not normally a fan of Japanese mochi as the glutinous nature of the dish can be quite filling. However, their mini-versions here contain 5 different flavours and are great for sharing and finishing off a meal along with tea or coffee. All the flavours were winners in our opinion with the likes of sesame, yuzu and coconut.
They close around midnight on most days, so it is a great choice for the West End crowd looking for an eclectic offering.