Yoshihiro Murata first came to the foreground as one of Japan’s all-star chefs by helming the kitchens at Kikunoi, a three Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant, before garnering four more across the country with two other eateries in Kyoto and Tokyo. Like the Roux family in London, culinary enlightenment seems to course through Murata’s bloodstream. Following the closing of his restaurant Chrysan in the City, he’s put Mayfair in his crosshairs and opened Tokimeitē, which takes its name from the Japanese colloquialism for giddy anticipation or ‘butterflies in the stomach’.
Located on Conduit Street, the restaurant has been given a sensitive design by Yasumichi Morita of GLAMOROUS, who lays claim to Morimoto South in Miami and Aqua Kyoto in London. The restaurant is spread over three floors with a minimalist scheme that is meant to reflect the elements of wood, water and fire, an open plan kitchen with Josper charcoal oven, a robata grill and a chef’s table which is set to open later in the year. The watchword throughout the restaurant is nature – there’s something eminently relaxing about the dining room, as if you’re sitting in a tranquil patch of forest.
Chef Murata has put together a menu that hinges on Wagyu, a robustly marbled Japanese breed of beef that is almost inconceivably tender, its fat so deliquescent that it will melt at human body heat, as in on the tongue. Knowing that there was a fair portion of beef ahead of us, we began our meal with vegetable and fish dishes. A selection of tempura was likely the best we’ve had in London – the prawns were pipped by elegantly fried shiso leaves, shimeji mushrooms and cauliflower fritters. Fried lotus root was used to encase a prawn and fish filling and then deep fried, served with lemon, a ponzu sauce and a creamy yuzu dip.
For our mains we embarked upon a beefy odyssey, opting to sample the Wagyu rump steak, which was cooked to a ruby red medium rare and served alongside saline fermented tofu and shaved horseradish. To be honest, it didn’t need any accoutrements; letting the fat coat the interior of your mouth was enough, activating a sensational salivatory experience. We then enjoyed a table-simmered bowl of wagyu sukiyaki, heavily dusted with truffles and served with onion, watercress and a truffle dip. It was a masterclass in indulgence.
A coffee sundae served in a parfait glass with a mascarpone and coffee crumble that brought to mind tiramisu. It was perhaps outshone a little by an apple tart tatin served with caramel ice cream. All in, we were very impressed by Tokimeitē. Whilst the prices for the Wagyu beef are of course eye-wateringly dear, there are plenty of other options you can choose from to enjoy fascinating Japanese cuisine. Highly recommended.