Yakitori is a Japanese word that literally means ‘grilled bird’.
The basic idea is to separate a chicken into into all of its constituent parts, then skewer them, season them, and scorch them all over a charcoal fire.
And that is what you’ll find at Junsei. It’s inventive (at least, in the context of the London restaurant scene), refreshing, and will likely push your own culinary boundaries just a little bit, in the best way.
The restaurant itself is an elegant sleeve of a space at the upper edge of Marylebone. Walking inside, and your eyed will be instantly drawn to the opposite end of the venue, where the open kitchen sits. Flames leap up, heady fragrances waft out, chefs fan the charcoal, and buzzing diners chat away to them. It feels refined, but unpretentious. The best bits of Marylebone, basically.
Now, regarding the menu, you can go a la carte. Absolutely. But, with a couple of reservations: 1) if you’re not used to yakitori, it might be tough to gauge exactly how much food to order, which will result in you deferring to the waiter, and 2) the price may end up piling up if you start to add too many delicious sounding things (and there are a lot) and 3) you’re unlikely to try the really weird ones, which would be a shame.
The solution? Order the omakase, which, for those who don’t know it, is a Japanese term meaning ‘I leave it to you’. Basically, the chef will send out what they think is best on that particular night. You’ll get enough to fill you up, it’ll be better value, and it’ll include the occasional weird one which you can brag about having found delicious later.
With slightly more than a dozen dishes to get through, they’ll arrive at a good clip, almost the moment you finish the previous skewers. You’ll try all the classics (chicken wings, things, etc), but you’ll also get mineral-rich gizzards, pâté-like chicken liver, and more. It’s all interspersed with sashimi, pickles, and chicken noodle soup freckled with meatballs. Everything finishes up with a giant, double-skewer meatball dipped in egg yolk. And then a dessert of ludicrously luscious brown sesame & fig. You’ll be full, and you’ll be happy.
There’s an optional drinks pairing to go with it, or you could choose a bottle of wine or sake yourself. But don’t worry.
They won’t grill you too hard.
NOTE: Junsei is open now. You can find out more, and make a booking at their website right HERE.
Junsei | 132 Seymour Pl, W1H 1NS
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