Sushi fans: gather round. Endo is not like any other omakase restaurant (omakase being the ‘chef’s selection’: like a tasting menu, but more personal). At least, not like one you’ll find in this city. London’s omakase joints are typically small, reverential spaces, the precision of the food mirrored by formal service and hushed voices. Endo is different. First up, the space is large, light and airy, with wraparound glass offering eighth-floor views across White City. Granted, that includes the back of Westfield (hello, Primark! Hey, John Lewis!) but well, a view is still a view. There’s music. It may be plinky plonky spa music, but it’s music. The front of house crew are in suits, but also trainers. The decor is stylish: think upscale Muji, all sleek slatted wood, black textured stone and an enormous, ethereal paper sculpture-cum-lampshade billowing above your head. You’ll sit at long L-shaped counter and then wait for a meal that’s pure theatre.
At any one time, there’ll be several chefs, in full whites, tending to some item or other. One might be manning the bamboo vat of steaming rice. Another, showing off some terrifyingly good knife skills. Then there’s the main man, Endo Kazutoshi, a third-generation ‘sushi master’, who introduces most of the dishes. Everything we ate was dazzling. Even the (white) miso soup. One, called ‘my business card’, was a no-rice handroll: a folded piece of nori filled with three types of tuna and brushed with marinade before serving. As with many of the dishes, it came with instructions. These were simple: eat it immediately, please.
Later, there was a plate of sashimi, the fish so fresh it could have been served naked, but that came with the faintest snowdrift of finely grated wasabi root, plus curls of radish and pretty petals. Then a succession of nigiri made with flawless sushi rice – each still-warm grain had that hard-to-achieve harmony of quietly vinegary, delicately sugar-and-salt, just sticky-but-still-separate – and topped with the likes of silky marinated Irish oyster, or a piece of squid so tender it was like eating jelly.
For the salmon nigiri, there was more drama. ‘Are you ready?’ one of the team asked. They handed a wooden box along: like a grown-up game of pass the parcel, where the prize is a sniff inside the box. In here, sure enough, a shiny fillet of salmon was quietly smoking. Quick as a flash, it was pulled out, sliced up and served.
The mackerel and lobster tempura was exquisite, as was the grade four wagyu (the second-highest there is). And finally – at a separate dessert-slash-drinks bar – raspberries with yuzu cream, pear and crème fraîche. By comparison, this dish was forgettable. But overall, Endo is as close to a perfect omakase experience as you’ll get, not least because of the appeal of the setting and the warmth of the welcome. It’s not cheap (the 11-course lunch, at £60 for 11 courses, is the best value way in, the 18-course dinner a fairly brutal £180) but if you’ve not yet written your letter to Santa, put this place on your wish list.