Review: Yakitori Restaurant Junsei Makes Flavours of Entire Bird Sing

Adventurous eaters are rewarded in finding the delights of off-cuts of chicken in the new yakitori restaurant Junsei in Marylebone…

Photo: Junsei

The restaurant on Seymour Place prides itself on its ‘zero waste’ policy of serving up every part of the organic slow-reared Suffolk bird, skewered in more than 20 different ways.

The chicken and kushiyaki vegetable skewers are dipped in a house tare (a combination of soy sauce, sake, mirin and ginger) before being cooked over white binchotan charcoal by chef Aman Lakhiani.

While there are tasty traditional skewers such as chicken thighs and tenderloin, the real delights come for those willing to go a bit bolder.

The case in point is the Hatsumoto, the chicken’s aorta, which is a tender piece of meat bursting with flavour as well as the Hatsu (heart).

The chicken wings are a standout dish, with the meat being so succulent you can easily pull the bone right out and eat the entire wing whole.

Another favourite on our visit was the tsukune (chicken meatball), which comes with an egg yolk in a bath of soy sauce in the corner of the dish to create a delicious coating and sauce. 

The restaurant features an omakase menu, where you leave the decisions to the chef who serves a selection of twelve courses directly to you as well as ala carte options.

Chef Lakhiani was born in Indonesia to Indian parents and he spent time at the Tsukiji Sushi Academy in Tokyo.

He went on to work with the former chef de cuisine at elBulli, at the Asian tapas restaurant Dos Palillos in Barcelona before setting his sights on London.

If you manage to score one of the few seats at the counter, you can watch the chef, alongside a sous chef and a bartender do a delicate dance of working together in the tiny space while chatting up the seated diners there.

Yakitori translates to ‘grilled bird’ so not surprisingly the chicken is the real star of the meal, and the other items are hit or miss.

A piece of hamachi sashimi was a nice clean balance to the yakitori, as well as the grilled okra with katsuobushi and shoyu dressing.

Other items such as the sea scallop with a trumpet mushroom were underwhelming. 

There is an extensive sake and shochu menu including Tamagawa ‘Red Label’ Heirloom Yamahai Genshu, which is the only sake made by an English sake master.

There are a variety of creative Japanese-inspired cocktails, including a Bincho Sour, crafted by general manager Rizwan Khan.

To finish off the meal there is an excellent sticky toffee pudding. England’s most iconic dessert is given a Japanese twist with miso whipped cream.

The soft interior of the pudding brings to mind a Gulab jamun, fusing the Japanese meal with the chef’s Indian background.  

Address: 132 Seymour Place, Marylebone W1H 1NS
Opening Hours: Wednesday & Thursday 6pm-9pm; Friday 6pm-10pm; Saturday 1pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm; Sunday 1pm-9pm
Website: junsei.co.uk

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