Endo at the Rotunda
Hattie Lloyd 04/08/23
Freshly caught fish is delicious, no matter how you slice it.
But when it’s in the hands of the most talented sushi chefs in the city? That’s when it becomes irresistible.
London may not be Tokyo, but we’re still ridiculously spoilt when it comes to great sushi restaurants. There are spots with third-generation sushi masters at the helm, places that serve up fish fresh off the boats that morning, and even a restaurant where the chef has specifically trained the fishermen who supply his restaurant in a centuries-old technique of humane dispatch. So in short…
…all of these raw-fish slingers are on a roll.
Endo at the Rotunda comes to you from Endo Kazutoshi, third-generation sushi master and former chef at Zuma and Spain’s celebrated El Bulli. The Rotunda is the circular 8th floor of the former BBC Television Centre building in White City, and dining here really feels like you’re in the clouds, thanks in no small part to the sinuous, billowy sheets suspended from the ceiling (designed by the same architect behind Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic stadium). With just 11 seats, it’s an intimate experience in which you’ll be able to watch Endo close up as he preps a 20 course, Michelin-starred omakase tasting menu featuring the likes of truffled spider crab and langoustine nigiri.
Details: White City House Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, W12 7FR | Book here
Duck under the noren curtains at Sushi Tetsu and you’ll be met with the kind of authentic Tokyo-style sushi restaurant you’d never expect to find down a Clerkenwell back street. Run by Toru Takahashi and his wife Harumi, it’s a tiny, 7 seater restaurant with stools overlooking the open kitchen. It’s intimate, unexpected, and unbelievably special, not least because Toru likes to scorch his fish with a blowtorch.
Details: 12 Jerusalem Passage, EC1V 4JP | Reserve ahead on 020 3217 0090
Izakaya at Dreams | Notting Hill
This genuinely is a super market. Because in the evenings, the team clear a space in the middle of the shop, and allow a small number of diners to pull up a stool and enjoy the day’s catch – prepped right before their eyes by Jaime Finol (who cut his teeth at SUMI), and Juan Cardona (who’s come here from Endo at the Rotunda). It’s fine dining in the most unassuming of surroundings, and unlike most corner shops, they actively encourage you to enjoy a drink on the premises…
Details: 126 Holland Park Ave, W11 4UE | Book here
Chisou is the Japanese word for feast, and this pair of sushi restaurants doesn’t disappoint there. Chisou has been going strong for the best part of two decades, and the atmosphere is calm and dignified without being stuffy; there’s a counter if you’d like to take in the theatre of the chefs, or simple tables and chairs surrounded by Japanese artwork. Fresh fish is delivered to the kitchen daily, where it’s masterfully assembled into moriawase (an assortment of raw sliced fish), nigiri (fish layered on top of sushi rice) and chirashi don (sashimi arranged over a bowl of sushi rice, with shiitake mushroom and seaweed). Plus, there’s an excellent array of hot izakaya-style dishes for anyone who’s not so keen on eating raw.
Details: 22-23 Woodstock Street, W1C 2AR | Book here
A gorgeous, dark, woody cocoon tucked down a Mayfair side street, accessibly only by placing your hand on a magic panel. Head chef Yoshinori Ishii is so devoted to the craft of sushi, he’s trained the Cornish fishermen who supply the swimmers in the ancient Japanese art of ike jime; a humane slaughter method that’s not only kinder to the fish, but also stops them releasing stress hormones that can toughen up the meat. The result? Melt-in-the-mouth classics (yellowtail, tuna belly, salmon and mackerel) alongside innovative combinations (langoustine and ginger, eel and caviar rolls) and one of the most comprehensive sake lists in Europe.
Details: 14-16 Bruton Place, W1J 6LX | Book here
Mayha | Marylebone
Mayha’s 11 seat counter is shaded by a canopy of twinkling flower-shaped lights – and even that’s not enough to outshine the elegant sushi dishes placed directly in front of you by chefs Jurek Wasio and Yuichi Nakaya. The omakase menu here starts with sashimi and sushi before building up to heftier rice bowls, but you can also book in for a gourmet bentō lunchbox if you’re after something lighter. Downstairs in the intimate cocktail bar, there’s also the option to order à la carte, or go for the mini omakase, paired with matching cocktails…
Details: 43 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, W1U 6LS | Book here
Kibako | Fitzrovia
Kibako comes to us from chef Padam Raj Rai, whose glittering CV includes two decades worth of experience at places like Nobu, Roka, and Sake No Hana. So, in short, he knows his way around a fish. And he’s showing it off in style at his latest restaurant Kibako, a gorgeous little bolt hole just off Charlotte Street. Inside, the simple wooden Japanese stylings make for a warm & intimate atmosphere – but the real star of the show is the sushi. Here, the omakase comes in wooden boxes (kibako literally means ‘wooden box’ in Japanese) divided into either six or a dozen individual little cubby holes. And inside these cubby holes you’ll find an array of beautifully seasoned swimmers, from bullets of seared butterfish with onion & pineapple salsa; hand-dived scallop with Japanese plum & ponzu sauce; and seared fatty tuna with red jalapeno. Aside from that, there’s all manner of excellent sashimi, maki, and even carpaccio. And it’s all uniformly delicious.
Details: 3 Windmill St, W1T 2HY | Book here
Kazu has been designed as an upmarket izakaya, decked out with clean, minimalist wood and an open kitchen. The head chef was formerly at Chisou, and his three decades of experience in the kitchen really shine here. The sushi range is vast – there are elaborate rolls (like the crab roll topped with grilled eel and flying fish roe); inside-out rolls; inside-in rolls; thinly sliced usuzukuri; chirashi rice bowls; lightly seared sushi; and a long à la carte list of sashimi, including bluefin tuna, yellowtail, butterfish, scallop, squid and sea urchin. All told, there are over 100 dishes on offer here. And if that all sounds a bit overwhelming, just go for the omakase.
Details: 64 Charlotte Street, W1T 4QD | Book here
A spectacularly intimate, ten-seater sushi counter, which will leave your wallet considerably lighter… but your heart and belly full. It’s a joint venture from husband & wife team Tamas & Tomoko, who serve their seasonally-led omakase menu with the kind of care and gentle hospitality that makes you feel like you’re entering into their home. And thanks to its small, discreet location down South Molton Street, you could almost believe it was.
Details: 56B South Molton Street, W1K 5SH | Book here
Another Chisou spin-off, Sushi Atelier is the more casual branch of the family. The place feels quintessentially Japanese, with counter dining, noren curtains and huge sake barrels dotted around the space. The food, on the other hand, looks to reinvent the familiar, with sushi blowtorched before your eyes and razor clam ceviche served with whisky jelly in a smoking glass bowl. Traditionalists, fear not – there’s still bento boxes and a PYO sashimi selection of horse mackerel, butterfish, snow crab, turbot and more.
Details: 114 Great Portland Street, W1W 6PH | Book here
Third-generation sushi chef Taiji Maruyama works miracles behind the blond wood counter of his eight-seater Central London sushi restaurant. Maru marks his solo debut here (after stints at Nobu, and the triple Michelin starred Ginza Koju, in Tokyo’s most upmarket dining district). And he’s wasting no time in blowing everyone away, with a 20 course omakase tasting menu that changes every night…
Details: 18 Shepherd Market, W1J 7QH | Book here
SUMI is sushi master extraordinaire Endo Kazutoshi’s “little sister” restaurant to his eponymous Endo at the Rotunda. Although technically, it’s named after his mother. This sushi restaurant is a little more low-key, but is as beautiful as the flagship. The interior is a balance of understated elegance: a mix of pale wood panelling, traditional tiling and somehow chic-yet-casual rattan accents. And the food? Well, let’s just say that Endo’s mother’s name is in good hands.
Details: 157 Westbourne Grove, W11 2RS | Book here
Housed inside Arcade Food Hall, the popular Sushi Kamon is a collaborative effort from both Yashin sushi (they supply most of the top sushi restaurants in London) and JKS restaurants (who are probably the best restaurant group in the city right now). As parents go, they’re not too shabby. And it shows – from the moment you sit down in front of the counter, you feel like you’re in good hands. Chef Michael Nonato will greet you with a charming smile, offer you a drink, and busily prepare delicious-looking plates of fish taken from a rainbow of perfectly-sliced fillets. And at the end of the 10-course affair, the bill is a thoroughly reasonable £45…
Details: Arcade, 101-103 New Oxford Street, WC1A 1DD | Book here
Utterly unassuming, right next to Willesden Green station, Sushi Masa is a neighbourhood gem with a convivial atmosphere. Every aspect of Japanese cuisine is represented well here, but the sushi’s a particular highlight – sake marinated oyster, fresh sea urchin, and expertly sliced sashimi keep locals coming back again and again.
Details: 33b Walm Lane, NW2 5SH | Open daily
Cubé may be cube-shaped, but it actually comes from the Japanese for ‘pamper’ or ‘treat’. Which this minimalist Mayfair sushi restaurant hopes to do to you via a menu of modern Japanese tapas and sushi – everything from lightly seared wagu beef to plates of boat-fresh sashimi, eased down by over 20 types of sake and 13 different Japanese whiskies. As for the wine, they offer you the pick of the owner’s own wine cellar. Talk about a personal touch.
Details: 4 Blenheim Street, Mayfair, W1S 1LB | Book here
Hidden down a Soho alley is this minuscule, very authentic sushi restaurant. Run by chef Yuya Kikuchi, who you’ll spot slicing behind the counter, Jugemu is the real deal – lots of sake, beautiful fish, and daily specials (written exclusively in Japanese) pinned haphazardly around the room. Portions are on the modest side, so don’t hold back on the tick-box menu you’ll find on your table. Go for the omakase, and take it as it comes – Kikuchi will have provided the perfect amount of soy, ginger or wasabi already.
Details: 2 Winnett Street, W1D 6JY | Book here: 0207 734 0518
This neighbourhood spot is the product of two best friends, who decided to finally open their own sushi restaurant and “selfishly take our own piece of satisfaction for making people happy”. So, selfishly, they each devoted two years to making sushi rice alone, before a further three years studying how to slice fish correctly. And now they’re – even more selfishly – plying you with dishes like surf clam and octopus sashimi, natto rolls (hard to find in the UK), and excellent hospitality. Ugh.
Details: 843 High Road, N12 8PT | Book here
Like cooked fish too? Take a look at our guide to London’s best seafood restaurants
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