The Resident takes a trip to Mayfair to dine at the infamous Sakagura and learn all about the ways of ‘washoku dining’

Words Alexander Larman

The Shoryu group (‘chain’ would not be an apt description) have done a superb job ever since they arrived in London half a decade ago. Introducing countless locals and visitors alike to ramen, they have used top-notch ingredients, welcoming environments and deceptively sophisticated service to ensure that an industry once dominated by Wagamama has managed to have competitors functioning at the highest level.

The interior is fresh and fabulous

The interior is fresh and fabulous

Now, they have changed their ethos and opened a high-end restaurant (or, as they might prefer to call it, ‘washoku dining’) in the heart of Heddon Street, Mayfair’s premier food and drink offering. Does it work?

If you’ve been to a Shoryu, you’ll know a lot of the ingredients already. The welcome is friendly, but not over-effusive. Likewise, the seating alternates between secluded and curtained booths, which are perfect for a secret assignation, and the dark tables that implicitly encourage a diner to eat and head elsewhere within an hour.

What’s new here is the quality of the food, which offers patrons an opportunity to sample Japanese cuisine without the pretension and expense that many others round here might take pride in.

What’s new here is the quality of the food

What’s new here is the quality of the food

The cocktails that begin the meal use sake as their main ingredient, which is a relief; lighter and more versatile than heavier spirits. There is some confusion as to our order, and we end up having starters of chicken kara age and a kind of baked tofu, which are both delicious, if somewhat surprising. It is the main courses where matters really come into their own, and wagyu beef and lobster, both cooked on the robata grill, manage to bring something fresh to luxury ingredients that have become well-worn through their ubiquitous presence on menus round Mayfair.

We had a superb Sauvignon Blanc that offered a richness and complexity that more than matched the various flavours that we enjoyed. Ultimately, Sakagura represents a new and bold move in contemporary London dining, and thanks to the lack of stuffiness and accessibility, it will be successful. Once they’ve sorted out a few issues with service, expect this to be a force to be reckoned with.

The knowledge

Dinner for two around £100

Good for…
Top-notch yet unpretentious Japanese cuisine

What to eat…
Wagyu beef has never been dull, and so it proves here

What to know…
If you’re a die-hard fan of noodles, rest assured that you have plenty of options to choose from, ramen or udon

Resident rating
4 stars

8 Heddon Street W1B 4BS; 020 3405 7230;