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Watatsumi (CLOSED)

Restaurants, Japanese Whitehall

Time Out says

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Watatsumi is a mid-priced modern Japanese restaurant just south of Trafalgar Square.

The setting’s a little odd – a high-ceilinged room of marble pillars and cornicing, actually an ante-room to a hotel lobby, that’s changed little since it was a ‘mozzarella bar’ a couple of years ago. The staff are an international bunch, but a few Japanese-style screens and a sushi bar are enough to make you aware of that this is no longer a place to order fresh bufala.

The nigiri sushi were competently made, the prices on the high side, served as individual pieces rather than the more usual pairs. Better value was a nicely-made agedashi dofu, the deep-fried cubes of tofu nicely crisp on the surface, dunked in a well-balanced hot broth of soy, dashi and mirin.

A side order of hijiki – a seaweed – was so generous we wondered if one of the junior chefs had made a mistake. It’s normally an appetiser-sized portion; this was an entire handful. Aka dashi soup proved a beter choice for a winter’s day, the dark red miso broth striated with enoki mushrooms.

The most surprising dishes though were the ones that were least Japanese – duck breast was cut into neat slivers and served with a mandarin-flavoured dressing. For this is not ‘Modern Japanese’ food in the Nobu sense, more of a mish-mash.

On our visit the staff appeared willing but inexperienced, and the restaurant as a whole seemed to lack focus. But the location makes it worth knowing about as the alternatives in the immediate area are limited, the dishes are competent, and it should be possible to get a seat post-theatre or -cinema at no notice.

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Details

Address: Club Quarters Hotel
London
WC2N 5BY
Cross street: 7 Northumberland Avenue
Transport: Tube: Charing Cross tube/rail or Embankment tube
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