What: St James’s teppanyaki restaurant Matsuri has undergone a £2.5m transformation and has reopened as Ginza Onodera. The restaurant is no longer solely focused on teppanyaki - the most theatrical style of Japanese cooking, which sees chefs cook food to order on a hot plate - and now offers a wide ranging menu chock-full of luxury ingredients.
Who: The restaurant is owned by the Onodera Group, which runs high-end restaurants in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Its parent group LEOC Co. is one of Japan’s biggest contract catering companies. Chef Ryosuke Kishi, whose CV includes the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, stays on from Matsuri.
The vibe: Six months in the making, the space has a dramatic, modern feel. An unapologetically corporate and expensive looking upstairs bar backs on to a ridiculously grand staircase that leads down to the basement restaurant. The 120-cover dining room is big on contrast; the walls and ceilings are dimly lit but the restaurant’s beautiful wooden counters and tables are picked out by spotlights. There’s also a statement wine wall that houses a formidable selection of sakes and Japanese whiskies (the well-publicised shortage of the latter does not appear to be an issue for the Onodera Group) as well as some big ticket Western wines.
The menu: Diners have the option to eat from the full menu on the restaurant floor or sit at one of three counters and be served by chefs specialising in either sushi, robata or teppenyaki. The main menu includes turbot kobujime usuzukuri - thin slices of cactus-fed turbot marinated in kelp - and wagyu nikujyaga - a hearty dish of beef and vegetables braised in mirin and soy sauce. Set menus range from £45 to £250; expensive, but hardly surprising given the post code.
And another thing: Those expecting a volcano made with onion rings will be sorely disappointed. The chefs at the sole remaining teppanyaki counter are apparently under strict instructions to keep the culinary theatrics to a minimum.