Until recently, Japanese food in the UK stopped at sushi; what started out as an exotic new cuisine which hit our shores in the 1980s has now captured hearts and palates across the country. But we now know there’s much more to Japan’s cuisine than raw fish and rice, and more British restaurants are showcasing the fantastic variety – the best of which is Chelsea’s Kurobuta.
Originally opened as a pop-up in 2013 by ex-Nobu head chef Scott Hallsworth, Kurobuta (which is the Japanese name for a Berkshire black pig) is an izakaya restaurant – a place that serves both alcohol and all types of Japanese food, instead of specialising in just one. Plates come thick and fast in small portions, so diners can order a selection of dishes and share them between the table, tapas-style.
Food falls into seven categories, including snacks, food grilled on the traditional Japanese Robata barbecue and ‘Junk Food Japan’, which consists of dishes such as Wagyu beef sliders and tuna sashimi pizza. The most famous dish, however, has to be the barbecue pork belly steamed buns served with spicy peanuts in soy; something Scott is incredibly proud of. Many of the dishes include a balanced combination of umami, smoky, salty, piquant and spicy flavours, making them perfect to enjoy alongside the extensive cocktail, wine and sake selection on offer.
The restaurant itself is a representation of Scott’s personality; flight cases usually seen backstage at gigs are used as storage and the restaurant looks more like a rock venue than a place to find fantastic food. Music is hugely important to Scott; so much so that you can even listen to the restaurant’s playlist on his website.