When London announces the return of Nobu ex-Head Chef Scott Hallsworth to open a Japanese restaurant (with an European twist) I did think I’d be in for a treat. I had no idea though just what a delectable treat Wabi London would turn out to be.
Wabi London is the more sophisticated sister to Sussex born Wabi which opened three years ago and, according to reports, was the ideal testing ground before opening in the capital.
Apparently backers have a plan to launch five sites in the next five years which explains the strong brand identity here, echoing that of Nobu, but it sets itself apart with outstanding food, wonderful wines and great, interesting service.
The main dining room isn’t as luxurious as the presentation of the food might like, and the serving staff are in *very* odd, double-take uniforms, but that aside, if it is incredible food you’re after then Wabi should not disappoint.
We started with chips and dips, which was a plate of crunchy pork scratchings with various sauces and a delicious chicken liver pâté to dip and crunch our way through. Excellent so far. Tuna tatami with a hot and sharp tomato gel sheet was a deliciously fresh juxtaposition to this and was a hint of the freshness and incredible produce to come.
Next, from the ‘crunchy’ menu was a plate of pumpkin tempura so perfect I craved it for the next 48 hours and prawn tempura was served similarly beautifully with kimchee and kimchee mayo, a light and crunchy coating and plump, flavoursome prawns.
Pork belly buns with peanut and chilli were so moreish it was almost impossible not to order another pair of them. Buns are fluffy and pillowy and pork is laced in the stickiest, richest BBQ sauce with peanuts adding a gorgeous garnish.
Tuna rolls were so fresh, so perfectly bundled, that you felt you could eat them forever. And soft shell crab inside-out rolls were a total surprise star with the crispness of the battered crab melting perfectly into the cool rice.
If you go to Wabi London, you must employ the services of the Sommelier. His quirky approach and useful, palatable explanations of the wines was a really enjoyable addition to the meal, and some of his wines were outstanding. Clever matches and the nicest Pinot Noirs we’ve ever had meant this meal just got better and better.
Wabi offers exceptional food, great service and I can’t think of an occasion it wouldn’t suit. Without the pretentiousness of its competitors, Wabi is exceptional and accessible, friendly and delicious, special enough for occasions and delicious enough to become a weekly treat.
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