By Celia Plender
Walking down a Bayswater backstreet, we weren’t too surprised to bump into Notting Hill resident Tom Parker Bowles; but a traditional Japanese restaurant, complete with wood and paper screen front, felt a lot more incongruous. Shiori could have been shipped in direct from Japan, as could the intricate, multi-course set meals they serve here. Whether you’ve tried it before or not, this is the place to experience kaiseki ryori – the Japanese version of haute cuisine – in London.
Trained in Kyoto – the birthplace of kaiseki ryori – chef-patron Takashi Takagi and wife Hitomi ran seven-seater Sushi of Shiori in Euston until October last year. Now they’ve upped their game, and their headcount (to 12), offering only tasting menus.
The eight-course Hana menu (at £65, the cheaper of the two evening options – the other’s £105) began with a genteel portion of broccoli-like rapeseed blossom scattered with bonito flakes. Next, a mound of sea bream slivers in a luxurious dressing of rich, sweet monkfish liver. And so our journey continued through a succession of delicate raw and cooked dishes, paired with cups of cold saké.
Celebrating the best of the season, a resonant broth jewelled with soft pillows of sweet snow crabmeat, firm tofu skin (yuba) and a tangle of slippery glass noodles was the pinnacle of the meal.
‘Natsukashi!’ they say in Japanese when reminded of a fond memory, and an evening here was resoundingly reminiscent of Japan. From placemats decorated with seasonal ingredients, to dishes adorned with edible buds and blossoms, a lot of attention has gone into every detail.