Taste reviews Kurobuta, Harvey Nichols

This restaurant review takes us one of London’s most expensive districts; Knightsbridge. We enter the super swanky Harvey Nichols, where shoppers’ are ladened with bags full of designer goods, and take the lift to the fifth (and highest) floor. As we emerge the bright artificial lights and elevator music are replaced with dark walls, coloured lights and lightly pumping music. We’ve arrived at Kurobuta, Harvey Nichols.

Proprietor and Head Chef Scott Hallsworth knows a thing or two about Japanese cooking. Having worked up the ranks in Nobu, he spotted a gap in the market for casual, mid-range Japanese cuisine, and so Kurobuta was born.

Nothing about the food and drink menus is subtle, with cocktails given names like “Green Bastard” and “Harajuku Girl”. Obviously, we start off with one of each. We ask our waiter Tim for some recommendations, and he guides us through the list of options, helping us put together a tip-top tasting menu so we can get the full Kurobuta experience.

As you’d expect with Japanese cooking, the combinations of sugar, salt umami and smoke are prevalent throughout, making the food insanely delicious and addictive. Our snacks of sweet potato and soba-ko fries and edamame beans arrive. The beans were superior to any other I’ve had before. Cooked in sake and butter, they had an incredible smokey flavour.

A delicate dish of yellowtail sashimi with kizami wasabi arrives as we finish our snacks. The soft tuna marries perfectly with the slightly sharp yuzu-soy that accompanies it. Following this fish theme rock shrimp tempura is presented next. The batter is so light and crisp, that the satisfying crunch is almost audible; and is served with a moreish kimchi mayo.

Next arrives one of the stars of the evening, the BBQ pork belly steamed buns. The pillowy buns and soft, chewy meat melt in the mouth, served with a sweet and tangy spicy peanut soy glaze that had us in raptures. Named “Seabass” on the menu, the fish in our next course was in fact Patagonian Toothfish. Similar to cod, this chunky fish was perfectly balanced with a spicy shiso ponzu sauce.

“Tim – what’s a Sake Bomb?” We enquire. He smiles and leaves, returning moments later with shot glasses of sake and half pints of lager. The glasses are precariously placed on top of the beer glasses with chopsticks. Before we know it, there’s banging on the table and shouting of “ICHI…NI…SAN” – and the cocktail is gone. By now you’ll get the idea that Kurobuta is not a place to take oneself too seriously.

Our savoury finale came in the form of sushi, a dragon roll comprising of prawn tempura, cucumber and avocado roll with unagi sauce and puffed rice spooned over the top. Fresh and delicious, the roll was Japanese cuisine done exceptionally well.

My advice to you when visiting Kurobuta? Keep room for dessert. We tried to abstain, but Tim insisted. So out came “Lavender Apple Pie” – an infused crème brulee, coupled with soft shortbread, an “apple pie” foam and sumptuous cinnamon ice cream. Flavours born to be served together, this sweet, crunchy and creamy dish was the perfect showpiece to round off an extraordinary meal.

The vibe in Kurobuta may be true to the nature of an “izakaya” (most commonly loosely translated as a pub) – a casual environment with relaxed atmosphere and friendly service, but the food is most certainly a step above; demonstrating enormous attention to detail, creative flare and exciting flavour and texture combinations. We’ll be back before you can say ichi…ni…san.

Festival Partners