Kurobuta London: The Japanese Pub

The Japanese pub (or izakaya) has hit the capital and thanks to the likes of Koya and Tonkotsu our taste for Japanese food has far advanced beyond just sushi. Former head chef of Nobu Park Lane, Scott Hallsworth has reinvented the traditional izakaya and given it a high-end makeover to create his own chain of Japanese gastropub’s named Kurobuta. Find Kurobuta in Marble Arch, Kings Road and Harvey Nichols.

Zuma it is not – and nor is it trying to be. The casual, unpretentious setting is quite frankly a refreshing change from the wildly glamorous restaurants of London. Set back amongst a residential area of Marble Arch, Kurobuta is authentic and real. The staff greet you with a genuine smile, the chef’s wave as you pass by the open kitchen and candles blaze in the dimly lit restaurant. Posters and flyers are pinned up on every wall with japanese writing scrawled over the top, cocktails are scribbled on the wall and a bright fuchsia wall is the background to private booths.

Kurobuta is a casual dining room that manages to maintain a humorous, fun nature – from the cocktails enscrolled on the walls to the rock & roll music blaring out of the speakers in the bathroom. Somehow, in the middle of central London, Kurobuta has managed to maintain a bit of un-pretentious fun about it.

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The menu is split into sections: Snacks, Raw/Salad, Junk Food Japan, Something Crunchy, Significant Others & Maki/Sushi. There are also two tasting menus (tasty box £18.50 and tastier box £20.50) which are ideal for a quick lunch and an even quicker taste of exactly what Kurobuta has to offer.

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We begin with the yellowtail sashimi and beef fillet tataki; both expertly prepared, cut uber thin and accompanied by zesty yuzu soy and wasabi salsa. The beef tataki is served with garlic crisps that give the dish an extra texture. Miso grilled baby chicken was delightful, however unfortunately it still takes second place to Zuma. Thumbs up from us.

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From the “Junk Food Japan” section, the tuna sashimi pizza – a crisp tostada topped with wafer-thin tuna and clusters of fish roe – delivered both on Instagram appeal and flavour. It’s definitely one for your Instagram roll. Other dishes from this section include miso grilled hot wings and wagyu beef sliders.The baby shrimp tempura was sweetly flavoured with a kimchee mayonnaise and put a very happy smile on our faces. The ironically named “Significant Others” section was home to an array of tempting dishes such as Kurobuta’s alternative to black cod –  kombu roasted chilean sea bass. Other highlight include the sticky miso grilled aubergine with it’s deep, mahogany flavours. We’d happily eat that every day for the rest of time.

Kurobuta Marble Arch – 17-20 Kendal St, W2 2AW

Kurobuta Kings Rd – 312 Kings Rd, SW3 5UH

Kurobuta Harvey Nichols – Harvey Nichols, SW1X 7RJ