NYC-born Jun Tanaka first cooked in London in 1990, as an apprentice at Le Gavroche. He rose through the ranks at a succession of blue-chip venues, and became executive chef at Pearl, in Holborn, in 2004. But the numbers that Tanaka prefers to crunch now are nine and one: this is the ninth place he’s worked in, hence the name, and the first that’s all his own. Chef Tanaka gave Time Out an exclusive first peek at his new place, which opens on November 19 for soft launch and on the 23rd officially. During soft launch there’s a 50 percent discount on food (dinner only on the 19th and 20th, lunch and dinner on the 21st); you have to book to get the discount. A new jewel for Jun? We’ll soon find out.
The menu hops all over the place, combining ingredients from east and west and making use of all the in-vogue processes: curing, flaming, smoking. The dish in the upper left here is flamed mackerel with dill, cucumber and capers.
Tanaka describes his approach as ‘French-Mediterranean’, and ‘the kind of food I would cook at home for my friends and family.’ Stracciatella di bufala with pickled beetroot and walnuts is the sort of composed salad you’d find at many a modern Spanish or Italian restaurant nowadays.
You’d faint if The Ninth didn’t expose an ample expanse of bare brick – for God’s sake, people, this is London in 2015. What’s a lot more surprising is the forest of copper and blown-glass pendants on the light fixtures.
Nestling in the corner behind those screens (actually steel wine cages), that window table offers a close-up view of passing pedestrians on restaurant-packed Charlotte Street. The Ninth has 43 covers on both ground floor and first floor, and there’s also a terrace seating eight people.
Calm before the storm? Chef Tanaka sits quietly now, but when the doors open things may be a little more hectic for him.
The Ninth, 22 Charlotte St, W1T 2NB. Goodge St tube.