So today I’m eating out in genteel St James. This wonderful, quintessentially English area of London is defined by its four corners: Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Green Park and Buckingham Palace. Iconic London.
In the 17th century St James was home to the British aristocracy and it’s where all the gentlemen’s clubs popped up in the 19th century. It’s famous for the very posh shops in Jermyn Street, elegant Pall Mall which still houses the capital’s most venerable gentleman’s clubs, art galleries, world-renowned restaurants and for being home to the Queen’s grocer – Fortnum and Masons (lucky her). Rents are among the highest in London (and therefore the world). Get the picture? St James oozes class, style and old money. And it’s home to fabulous Matsuri.
This stylishly understated Japanese restaurant opened in 1993 and serves the range of authentic Japanese food, including sushi, tempura and Teppan-yaki. Matsuri means ‘festival’ in Japanese, where festivals are used to celebrate the best of produce, and that’s what you’ll get here. Top-quality meat and fish perfectly prepared.
We had to try out things from all sections of the menu (impossible not to, the menu is so diverse and tempting). We started with a prawn and vegetable tempura. The best tempura I’ve ever had, piping hot, flavoursome and wonderfully crisp – and it looks beautiful, too.
More modern-style sushi came in the shape of spicy Matsuri rolls. Packed with salmon, topped with a scallop and served with delectable chilli mayo. We asked our charming waitress how they made the mayo, and now I know the secret I’ll certainly be making it and eating it regularly at home!
And then on to the more traditional yellowtail, mackerel and tuna sushi. Wonderful fish that melted in the mouth.
For main courses the Teppan-yaki section of the menu comes into play. The Alaskan black cod with ginger had been marinated to a wonderful tenderness and sweetness. Cooked in front of us on hottest of plates, it was rich and beautifully flavoursome. Cod doesn’t get better than this.
The Scottish Angus steak, again cooked in front of us, was delightful, tender and tasty and cooked to perfection. One of the other parties on our table also had foie gras (which you can also see being cooked here) and raved about it!
We also had delicious garlic fried rice, which our chef cooked up in front of us. And we couldn’t resist a couple of desserts – the Fire Ball Ice Cream with Mango, which was set alight on the hot plate causing brief billowing flames. Very theatrical. My dessert was actually a drink – Sparkling sake with baby peaches and lychee sorbet. Now that’s my kind of dessert. The peaches were seriously baby, about the size of cherries, and super-sweet and the lychee sorbet was added to the sake for some extra fizz and drama. Wonderful.
Matsuri is a great place for a special occasion dinner, a mix of style, ceremony and lovely food made using only the best of ingredients. Just what you’d expect in this wonderfully sophisticated part of London Town.