Food programme regular and former Pearl executive chef Jun Tanaka is set to open his first restaurant in central London next year.
The chef, who left fine-dining restaurant and bar Pearl at the end of last year, has secured the site and will be opening a 'relaxed, casual yet stylish dining experience'.
The name and location of the new venture are still under wraps, but the menu will be made up of simple French and Mediterranean dishes designed for sharing. Diners can expect raw, cured and smoked dishes, wood-roasted seafood and meats, with a unique emphasis on seasonable vegetables.
Born in the US to Japanese parents, Tanaka worked his way up the restaurant career ladder in the UK from the age of 19; training and working at the likes of Le Gavroche, Chez Nico and Marco Pierre White's restaurant Harvey's, all in London.
He later progressed to work at other Michelin-starred London establishments including The Capital, Chavot and Les Saveurs. He also spent time under Marco Pierre White at both of the chef’s restaurants before taking over as executive chef at London's Pearl Restaurant in 2004.
"When I was training as a chef I moved around a lot," Tanaka told BigHospitality in an exclusive Pearls of Wisdom interview. "The longest I stayed was two years with Eric Chavot as sous chef. I learned the true importance of flavour from him. Nothing else matters, and nothing should distract from it.
"I’ve always been passionate about what was on my plate. When I was growing up the family dinner was a big part of my life, and my mother made a point of having everyone sitting down to dinner every night. It was the highlight of my day."
In 2010, Tunaka took to the streets of London in an Airstream van with fellow chef Mark Jankel for Street Kitchen - a new street food concept serving fresh, British food inspired by Jankel’s project The Food Initiative over the course of two weeks. Street Kitchen was initially run as part of the London Restaurant Festival, but the popularity of its well-sourced high-class cooking led to its permanent return a year later.
Following the success of their other locations at Broadgate Circle and Battersea, Street Kitchen opened up a third venue on Shoreditch High Street earlier this year, which will run until the end of the year ahead of a potential permanent site within the upcoming Shoreditch Village development.
"One thing that London doesn’t do well, although it is a capital for gastronomy, is street food," said Tunaka at the time of launching the concept. "When diners think of street food they think hamburgers and hotdogs, which shows that the trend hasn’t taken off yet. It’s a market that has to be researched, but it’s something that could potentially take off in a big way."
Tunaka will open his first solo project next year, with more details about the restaurant to be released in due course. Watch this space.