⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
What’s in a name? Kurobuta roughly translated means ‘black hog’, and is pork famous throughout Japan. Like everything at this popular London eatery the name seems to have been carefully chosen to reflect the cuisine on offer. This is Japanese tapas, a menu made of delicious small plates designed to share and inspire.
The atmosphere is meticulously crafted, wood panels, indie music and dim lightbulbs transport you somewhere almost unfamiliar. Allow yourself to relax into the experience with a pint of Kirin and you will undoubtedly forget that you are anywhere you have ever been before.
The menu is accessible, with every item familiar but interesting. The chef and visionary, Scott Hallsworth, is a former head chef from the world famous Nobu restaurants and this pedigree shows throughout the offerings. The challenge is limiting yourself to only a few dishes, we ordered 7 in total, it would be easy to over order hurting not only your stomach but also your wallet.
Our first two were from the snack part of the menu, sweet potato fries and charred edamame. The fries were unlike any I have tasted before. The chef lightly coats each fry with tempura batter ensuring a delicious and satisfying crunch. Every Japanese restaurant serves edamame in London but in most cases they are boiled with some salt sprinkled over the top, delicious but hardly innovative. Kurobuta serves theirs slightly differently, charring the pods after cooking and adding a lemon butter along with the salt. This gives a new dimension to these humble beans, the salt and char being perfectly offset with the citrus flavours, whilst still allowing the soya beans to be the prevailing flavour.
Next we were treated to soft shell crab maki, tempura baby shrimp and calamari. The maki was delicious, some of the best I have had in London. The rice, delicately flavoured and perfectly sticky housing the soft shell crab and avocado in the centre. The defining feature was the Kimchee mayonnaise in the centre and dribbled on to the top giving the rolls an unexpected smoky flavour. The calamari and prawns were perfect, crisp golden brown served with delicious dipping sauces of mayonnaise and revelatory jalapeño and avocado dip.
Our final two dishes brought the meal to a wonderful crescendo. A tuna sashimi pizza followed by BBQ pulled pork in steamed buns. After the fried dishes the sashimi pizza was a surprising palate cleanser. A base of crispy flatbread held up wonderful fresh raw tuna enhanced with a citrus drizzle and fresh herbs. We finished it off within a few bites and waited for the final flourish, our pork buns. These were a juxtaposition, heavy, meaty, rich and stodgy with an intensely flavourful peanut soy based dipping sauce, pure indulgence. With each bite we tore off succulent pieces of tender moist pork until there was none left.
One meal at Kurobuta and I can see why it has seen so much success in a short space of time. Hype is not a word that you can pair with this restaurant as it delivers on every promise. Flavourful interesting food in a completely unique setting accompanied by service that is friendly and attentive but not intrusive. It truly is one to watch out for and one to save up for. It is not cheap at around £45 per head, however I would always prefer to spend money on a fantastic experience and Kurobuta is just that.