Kurobuta in Chelsea
When Scott Hallsworth of Nobu announced the launch of Kurobuta – this pop-up Japanese restaurant nestled on King’s Road – there was no doubt that it would be a beacon for curious diners. The three-month venture closes in December, but a permanent restaurant in Marble Arch is already confirmed, testament to the quality and execution of the cuisine.
The split-level restaurant was cosy and inviting for the evening sitting, bathed in a warm caramel glow of subtle lighting, with wooden furniture and exposed, peach plasterwork. Accommodating 38 covers, tables are tightly packed but this only adds to the charm. At the far end, an open kitchen provides a view of Hallsworth expertly preparing sashimi, and the small, central bar reveals a glimpse of colourful cocktails.
The Green Bastard (gin, Midori and cucumber) and a Schichimi Margarita (mango sorbet, tequila and umeshu) kept us refreshed as we discussed our menu selections with the manager. Recommended five or six dishes between us, we ordered a plate from each of the menu’s seven sections. The meal was a glorious banquet, beginning with Sweet Potato and Soba-Ko Fries with Sauces. The crispy chips were coated in a tasty seasoning, served with a mild wasabi sauce and a creamy, sweet chilli mayonnaise.
Crispy Skin Duck Confit, Watermelon, Daikon Pickle and Spicy Peanut Soy was also delicious, although the cold fruit jarred slightly, and Pumpkin Tempura with Pickled Pumpkin and Creamy Spicy Shiso Dressing was crunchy and moreish. Soft Shell Crab Tempura Maki with Kimchee Mayo were particularly flavoursome, with the puffy batter adding bite to the crab flesh and sticky rice.
BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Spicy Peanut Soy and Yellowtail Sashimi with Kizami Wasabi Salsa and Yuzu-Soy were both exceptional. The succulent pork was perfectly balanced with a smoky sauce, crammed with chopped nuts, and the fresh, melt-in-the-mouth tuna was further enhanced by an exquisite dressing, eagerly mopped up with Steamed Rice.
We selected a Trio of Desserts to finish, along with a warm Signature Brew Sake, beginning with Chocolate Coffee Toffee Treat: a layered rectangle of coffee cream, coffee crumble, chocolate ganache and mocha icing. Topped with marinated raspberries and served with a silky toffee sauce and raspberry curd, it was faultless.
Pistachio Dessert resembled a forest floor of earth, moss and berries: a triumphant assembly of pistachio and almond cake on a bed of caramelised pistachio paste, alongside cool blackcurrant parfait, soft blackcurrant candy (sugar coated jellies), pecan crunch and a rich, dark chocolate mousse.
Less exciting, though equally innovative and complex, was Carrot Cake. The deconstructed tea-time favourite saw wedges of spiced sponge with a layer of delicate shisho cream decorated with tangy yuzu curd, paper-thin umeshu (Japanese plum wine) meringue, blackberries, raspberries and shortbread crumble.
As we left, a queue of waiting diners spanned half the length of the restaurant and with good reason: Kurobuta is a stand-out pop-up. In a city crowded with outstanding food destinations, it is not to be missed – a formidable achievement.
Photos: Daniel Donovan
To book a table at Kurobuta, 251 King’s Road Chelsea London SW3 5EL, visit here.