London dining: Matsuri, St James

I picked Matsuri for a farewell dinner with a friend last night. And am I glad I did! Tucked away in quiet Bury Lane, with a very unassuming entrance, it’s easy to miss Matsuri, unless you’re looking for it.

The dining area is decorated simply and elegantly, with Japanese fans  and paintings adorning the walls and teppanyaki tables curving around the large open floor. For a Saturday night, Matsuri was unsurprisingly packed, but surprisingly not noisy at all!

Yakitori at Matsuri St James

We started off with some yakitori and prawn and vegetable tempura. The yakitori was delicious, soft and juicy, but the portion was small – just two skewers. I haven’t had bad tempura to date, so this tasted as good as any others I’ve had, though perhaps it could have done with a little more salt. We had their Sake sample tray with our meal. This was three different types of cold Sake which I found impossible to pronounce or understand when they were being explained to us, so the friendly waiter wrote the names, family, and ingredients down for us to take home! Which brings me to the staff at Matsuri – very polite and pleasant, dressed in traditional attire and more comfortable speaking Japanese than English: they gave the restaurant a lovely authentic feel.

Teppanyaki tofu and vegetables

Teppanyaki tofu and vegetables at Matsuri St James

Starters done, it was time for mains. And boy, were we spoilt! Not just for choice, but quantity and flavours and the whole teppanyaki experience too. We went for portions of egg fried rice, garlic butter rice, and spicy fried rice, served with vegetables and tofu, and spicy teriyaki chicken. Our chef arrived with his tray of raw ingredients, and sliced and diced, splashed, tossed, drizzled, and sizzled in style. And that was easily the best teppanyaki I have had to date.

Dessert was a green tea tiramisu – not really my kind of thing – though it looked very pretty and pleased my aesthetic sensibilities immensely! My husband thought it tasted gorgeous too though. I had the fireball ice-cream – vanilla ice-cream served with pineapple and a sweet pancake, all flambéed right there in front of us. Quite a show!

I had something called a mango delight post dinner and dessert – a cocktail of mango sorbet, cointreau and vodka. Loved it, very refreshing. Mango is also slowly climbing up on my list of favourite fruits…

We were the last people to leave Matsuri that night. Many hours of excellent food, drink, service, and entertainment. Highly recommend it!

Matsuri on Urbanspoon

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