When I visited: December 2016
Location: London, near Piccadilly Circus
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Not rated in the Guide
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress
Ambience: Smart / casual, intimate
Course of the meal: Sushi roll with black truffle
If I could change one thing: Cheaper (but the price is understandable given the high-quality ingredients)
I had been wanting to go to Engawa since hearing about it from the staff at The Moon, its sister restaurant in Tokyo. I finally visited with my partner Owl in December 2016 and we had a slightly Christmassy, well-constructed traditional ‘omakase’ meal of 5 courses. We were slightly surprised that the restaurant was so small (it seats 29), but this didn’t detract from the atmosphere and actually added to the intimate, professional feel. The head waitress helped us to choose a deliciously smooth and floral Junmai cold sake, called Kawatsura Muroka, which went with everything.
The first (bonus) course was a small bowl of udon noodles in broth, which immediately brought back good memories of the broths we enjoyed in Japan, and how full of flavour they all were. The first starter was a wagyu beef salad with tiny cubes of vegetables, again with a delicious broth.
The second starter was the beautiful pictured sashimi box, which included salmon, various types of tuna, scallops, roe, Chinese cabbage, a mini sesame salad, tofu, a rolled omelette and three sauces. The presentation was as lovely as the sashimi itself, with each piece carefully flavoured. The next course was the chef’s special of black cod and seared tofu in a broth, which put Nobu‘s black cod to shame.
We had to choose our main courses; my partner Owl went for the beef and paid £40 to upgrade to Kobe (versus the ‘regular’ wagyu); I went for the sushi. The beef was served medium rare with roast parsnip, cauliflower, onion, a creamy wasabi sauce, rice and a side salad as well as miso soup – like a perfect, miniature Japanese Christmas dinner. My sushi selection was as beautiful as the sashimi:
The highlight in terms of taste was a sushi roll which came with black truffle in its owl bowl. My sushi also came with miso soup.
Dessert was a green tea tiramisu and a green tea chocolate fondue with fruit to dip, and a slice of Japanese pancake filled with cream. It was a lovely, light way to finish a meal which sounded big on paper but never made us feel too full.
I am looking forward to going back to Engawa, which is a very safe bet for an authentic, tasty Japanese meal. It is probably better for dates or meetings than for big groups of friends, due to the small size and intimate atmosphere.