The buzz has finally come over to the west side. Well I never! It’s always ‘Hoxton this’ and ‘Shoreditch that’ and whilst I love those places and all they have to offer, it’s nice to have something that doesn’t take me an hour and a half to get to.
Hearing quite a bit about the Kurobuta pop-up that is currently residing on The King’s Road, soon to be a permanent feature in Marble Arch, I decided to book myself in. It was far more casual on the inside than I had anticipated; temporary looking wooden tables and flyers pinned to the walls, it had a beach-side shack vibe to it. After a chat with the nice, but slightly over familiar waitress, about the menu, which involved her pulling up a chair and sitting next to us to tell us about it, we decided to pick a few plates to share.
First up BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Spicy Peanut Soy. You get two buns and it’s at a pricey £13. I was really intrigued about this as I’ve sampled the delights at Momofuku in New York and more recently at Flesh & Buns in London. This style of bun has never been my favourite consistency, but when the meat is cooked to perfection and marinated really well, it makes it into a comfort food of sorts. This didn’t hit the spot for me. I found the meat to be a little too fatty than normal and it was flavourless. I’ve noticed from photos that our dish doesn’t look nearly as marinated as other people’s, it looks very pale, maybe ours missed the dip in the marinade pool? I really liked the chilli and pickled cucumber as that added a burst of spice and texture to the dish. The peanut soy dip was too concentrated and severe, it needed to be a little bit diluted for it to be appreciated.
Next was Salmon Gravadlax and Avocado Tartare with Dill Mayo, Rice Crunchies and Fresh Yuzu Zest. This was a small dish, but worth every penny of the £11 it’s priced at. The creamy sauce drenched the finely chopped and full of flavour salmon and it was accompanied by diced avocado, sesame and a nice sharp tang of yuzu. The rice crunchies added a good solid base to the dish and there’s a strong taste of dill, but fortunately for me, I love dill. It was presented beautifully and tasted fantastic. I would order this over and over again. By far the best dish I tried.
As more of an appetiser, but everything comes out when it’s ready, we chose the Sweet Potato and Soba-Ko Fries with Sauces. The fries were seasoned impeccably, they were chewy and crispy and had a strong, ripe flavour to them. The dish was accompanied by two dips; a green one that I wasn’t a huge fan of and an orange one that was delicious, it was thick and creamy and had an addition of lemon juice that gave it a burst of something extra. This was a simple, grazing dish, I just wish it had come out at the start.
Having a hankering for some sushi we opted for Spicy Tuna Maki Rolled in Tempura Crunchies. This one is cut into 6 pieces and is a relatively modest £8.50. The tuna itself was delectable. It was clearly of the best quality and tasted as such. The rice was soft and a touch warm, which I love, I feel it denotes a freshness and high calibre. However, the tempura crunchies ruined it for me. They didn’t have a crunchy consistency in the slightest, more the texture of cake crumbs and the taste was almost sweet, it didn’t contribute anything to the dish, in fact, if anything it just took away from it. This was a hit and miss dish for me.
The final dish, the second best, at £9.50: Tuna Sashimi Pizza with Trufle Ponzu, Red Onions and Green Chillies. A delightful, crispy tortilla base topped with very thin and beautifully flavoured slices of tuna sashimi. A dash of a light, cream sauce drizzled over it and a tonne of colourful tobiko. It was wonderful. I realise I sound like a spoiled brat when I say this, but the tuna pizza at Morimoto in Meatpacking is out of this world. I mean, like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. The most incredible, mouth-watering, innovative and delicious dish and whilst this one was pretty good, it just wasn’t ‘Morimoto good.’
After a good experience here, a couple of lacklustre dishes, but overall really nice, the waitress went and ruined it. She stepped way over the mark and the over familiarity of before was now just a distant memory; she just kicked us out of bed. Let me proceed in telling you the tale:
- The bill arrived after being told it was coming, not after having requested it, even though we had been there for just under an hour and my reservation told me I was entitled to the seats for an hour and a half.
- There is no subtotal and ‘service charge’ is bunged in there too. I’d like to point out the lack of the word ‘optional’ here. The service was at 12.5% and was £5.52. The total bill came to £51.52. I always pay service when I feel it is earned, however given that we had been there less than an hour and I wasn’t particularly taken with this waitress’ approach to serving us, I did hesitate slightly. However, I intended to pay it.
- I popped £1.50 in change on the tray and then we decided to split the rest over two cards (£25 on each).
- When she came over with the card machine I said, ‘Can we do £25 on each card and the rest is in change?’ This took her a moment to process. She replied ‘So £25 on each and did you say the rest was in cash, where is the rest?’ I replied that the rest was on the tray. At this stage I just wanted her to get on with it, I didn’t even have to put that £1.50 down, it was part of the service and think she had been given more than enough.
- She then had the nerve to say ‘And the 2p? Where’s the 2p? Did you not have the 2p as you haven’t paid the full amount?’ Well that was a bit of a shock to the system. and she was pretty rude for asking. I replied that I did not have 2p to hand and it can come out of the service. IT’S TWO FRICKING PENCE. I left this one to Aky as I was so riled up by her audacity so he went to speak to the manager.
- After a bit of a discussion the manager handed him back the £5.50 tip. Too bloody right. It’s just a shame there was a bit of a sour end to an otherwise good meal.
I felt that it was a delicious meal overall, some dishes I’d love to have again, but because of other ‘misses’ I wasn’t blown away and I think I expected a bit more from Nobu alumni.
251 Kings Road, London, SW3 5EL
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