Engawa is proof of why, when in London, it always pays to dart up a side street. Situated in Ham Yard, a fairy-lit courtyard that is also home to the luxurious Ham Yard Hotel, Engawa, while bijou, offers an experience you’ll want to shout about from the city’s rooftops. In fact, a night at Engawa makes up for all those occasions when you’ve wielded a pair of chopsticks around a selection of sushi only to be left thoroughly disappointed at the blandness and quality presented. As any fan of Japanese cuisine will tell you, truly great sushi and sashimi is nothing short of an art form, so it’s refreshing to find an exclusively Japanese brigade in this restaurant’s open kitchen who have mastered this perfectly. The three, five and eight-course tasting menus available at dinner provide a satisfying overview of the skills on display, and the sashimi selection that opens the three-course show is the prettiest thing you’ll see outside Japan. Delicious morsels of squid, scallop, tuna, sea bass, salmon roe and sea urchin, to name just a few, come presented in individual hand-painted ceramic pots, all housed within a bento box – it’s every inch a box of delights.
"Delicious morsels... come presented in individual hand-painted ceramic pots"
Fish isn’t the only star here, however. With the EU ban on Japanese meat lifted last summer, Kobe beef – renowned for its marbled texture and melt-in-the-mouth flavour – is presented here in a daily selection of different cuts served with seasonal vegetables. The meat is sourced from the famed Tajima breed of black Wagyu cattle from the centre of Japan and is so passionate about showcasing the different cuts available that it is said to be the only restaurant in the UK that imports the entire animal. Needless to say, if you haven’t experienced Kobe beef before this is the place to try it. If a tofu cheesecake doesn’t sound like much of a way to finish off such an impressive menu, think again. The matcha green tea-infused white chocolate dipping sauce served with it is a thing of joy – you’ll be asking for a vat full. This place will blow you away.
2 Ham Yard, W1D 7DT. 020 7287 5724.