Matsuri St James – a show with our dinner
Matsuri, a glamorous and upmarket restaurant in St James, makes a point of infantilising its predominantly corporate clientele. Soon after we ordered, our waiter carefully hung napkins around our necks, clipping them into place with almost maternal tenderness. It was a somewhat strange feeling in this very luxurious place, but I for one quite enjoyed it.
The four of us ordered a starter each and then a variety of teppanyaki to share. I still remember the first time I had a teppanyaki experience in a restaurant in Zurich, and this dinner proved that it will never fail to amaze me.
I ordered my two favourite nigiri rolls to start, unagi (eel) and fatty tuna (which I had only discovered a couple of days earlier at Kiku). The unagi was the best I’ve ever tasted, and trust me, I’ve tasted it in many, many places (but the tuna was better at Kiku)!
Other starters included tuna tartare and other sushi variants.
And then, it was time for the highlight of the evening: lobster, steak and scallops, cooked to perfection before our very eyes. Our first chef was stellar and she perfectly prepared, served and arranged the lobster and scallops. I was fascinated by her use of knives and spatulas, and couldn’t stop watching her, even when she was cooking for other guests next to us!
I have always been afraid of cooking scallops, as they seem so delicate and difficult to get right. I will definitely try more in the future though, as the payoff is immense. These scallops, as well as the lobster, were succulent and just a little smoky, matching perfectly to the dipping sauce provided.
The chefs switched just before our steak was made, and we were treated to a marvel of globalisation: a Spanish native, working in a Japanese restaurant, in London. And whilst my medium rare steak verged more on the medium side, it still tasted phenomenal. The dipping sauce was wasabi cream, and it was an assault on my tastebuds in the best possible way.
We finished with garlic rice – that’s right, it was a course on its own and not a side dish. The amount of garlic that went into it seemed outrageous, but the taste was delicately perfect.
Matsuri was a delightful meal and entertaining to boot. The prices are quite high, but that is to be expected given the location and quality of food. I highly recommend it for a special occasion or a business meal!