A few weeks ago I met up with an old friend for dinner in Notting Hill. Now, its been a while since I’ve been in that neck of the woods so she suggested we go to Ukai, a Japanese restaurant on Portobello Road which used to be Bed Bar, an old haunt of mine.
Contemporary and sleek inside, my friend and I settled in for a good catch up over some much needed alcohol (it had been a stressful day) before asking our (very friendly and knowledgeable) waiter for his recommendations. First up was the tuna sashimi rose…pretty as a picture and tasting even better. And Yellowtail with Yuzu Ponzu & Chilli…so zesty and fresh, it was like a party in my mouth.
We then had some of Ukai’s Hamachi sashimi with wasabi and ginger. So succulent and fresh, it melted in the mouth.
Next up was a stunning dish of pan-fried seabass with a chilli shiso dressing. Yet another party in my mouth! I would go back to Ukai for this dish alone. The skin was perfectly crisp and charred around the edges, the meat was soft and flaky, it was a delight.
Kobe beef tenderloin arrived sizzling on the plate and melted in my mouth…it was glorious. It almost made me wish I hadn’t had the previous dishes as I was already filling up by the time it appeared in front of me and I feel like I didn’t do it justice.
As much as I loved the sashimi we started with, I’d actually go back for the seabass and that kobe beef again, as I’d love to try them both on an empty stomach. As my mum has been telling me since I was a little girl…“Your eyes are too big for your belly young lady!” Even now, all these years of eating out later, I’m still doing the same thing!
For dessert we had the yuzu cheesecake with an almond crumble base. Unfortunately my photos turned out a bit blurry by this part of the evening…clearly too much wine! But take my word for it, the cheesecake was creamy, smooth and light, the citrusy yuzu cutting through the richness, and the almonds giving a beautiful bite to it.
Ukai is a great little place. The waiters couldn’t have been more friendly or knowledgable and the quality of the produce speaks for itself. The chefs certainly know what they are doing…the ingredients are the main event and are just teased along with the additional marinades. I loved everything I tried and would happily go back to try out more.