Tucked away in Mayfair is where this Japanese restaurant is located. It gives the chance to take time out from the busy surrounding areas of Piccadilly. On arriving at Ginza Onodera, I was taken downstairs into the restaurant area as the entrance level is the bar area. The staff were ever so welcoming from the moment I stepped into their restaurant.
Ornate big flower displays decorate the restaurant and also the bar entrance. These flowers are changed with the seasons and are a combination of real and silk flowers. The striking colours are what the eyes are drawn to. Ginza Onodera is a sleek, smart and special restaurant. There are crisp lines with the black and light wood simple decor. A tranquil atmosphere is attributed to by the soft music in the background. The seating is very comfortable.
Ginza Onodera has three dedicated counters; a sushi counter, a Teppan-Yaki counter and a Robata counter. For the Teppan Yaki, the chefs are recognised by the Teppan Yaki association of Japan. This shows that the chefs at Ginza Onodera are trained to the highest of standards. These different counters can be seen from the restaurant area. There are seats by the counters so you can watch the chefs create your food.
In addition to the main restaurant area, there are private dining rooms as well as separate Teppan-Yaki rooms. The restaurant has a great layout and feels spacious. It was also the little things that were noticed. One of these was that at the wall seating, below the seats, there were plug sockets. This was a handy feature for those customers who needed charging points.
The Ginza Onodera experience started off with a Funky Breeze cocktail. It was described as tropical and flowery. It was pineapple and mango based and was fruity, sweet and tangy. As for the still mineral water, the bottle had a description on it. Interestingly, this Thoreau mineral water stated that “The author Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was one of the first to recognize the importance of environmental issues. For a few years he left city life for a simpler existence, and during this time he wrote “Walden”, a book where he reflects on an ecologically sustainable society. What could be more fitting than naming a water that is bottled on site after him.”
With so much choice on the menu including sushi and sashimi, the menu was discussed with the staff. It was easier to let them choose the dishes for me and go with their recommendations on what items would go together. The staff went through the items to double check the dietary requirements. When the first course was nearly ready, they came and told me and also thanked me for waiting. Such acknowledgement from the staff made for special dining.
Five pieces of succulent chicken topped with grilled spring onion were held together by mini skewers. This Chicken Yakitori was beautifully presented. The free range chicken had been grilled on the charcoal. There was so much flavour of the yakitori sauce blend but it was not overpowering. There were two dips that were supposed to come with the Chicken Yakitori. These were scichimi togarashi and sansho pepper. But due to an allergy to one of the ingredients that made up the scichimi togarashi spice mix, only the sansho pepper was given. The slight sweetness of the coated chicken contrasted with the peppery kick of the dip.
The Ganmodoki was a dish that originally came from Portugal and was introduced into Japan. It was a very traditional Buddhist monk style dish and one that the staff had wanted me to definitely try. The Ganmodoki was a tofu based cake with shitake mushrooms, carrots and edamame. It was topped with crispy carrots strings. There was a side sauce of a soy based sauce and micro greens. For the Ganmodoki, a separate bowl was given. This was as the tofu cakes were to be eaten with the sauce poured over them. There was a sweetness to the sauce. The soft silky texture of the tofu contrasted with the crunchy vegetables and the fried carrots. There were wedges of bamboo as well which reminded me of grilled pineapple wedges in their appearance. The Ganmodoki was a unique dish and not at all dull. Whoever has said that tofu isn’t tasty, needs to try this dish. The shallow bowl that the Ganmodoki was served in looked like a hollowed out tree bark.
The final starter that was brought out was the Black Cod Croquettes. The delicious creamy fish was enveloped in panko breadcrumbs. The croquettes were packed full of the black cod. They came with wasabi mayo. Usually wasabi mayo is not one of preference but this one was lovely and went well with the croquettes. Different shapes and sizes of cutlery were given to go with each starter.
Ginza Onodera suggested to have a palate cleanser in between the courses. This came in the form of Dobin Mushi. Dobin Mushi means that the soup is steam cooked in the clay teapot. A little cup was given and the way to have this soup was that the clear soup was to be drunk from the cup and the vegetables to be eaten from the teapot. The soup had sliced mushrooms and fish cake in a konbu kelp stock. A lime wedge was given on the side. The fish cake was made with white fish. It had a dense smooth texture and it was tasty. The herb was slightly like parsley. The Dobin Mushi was nice and light after the wonderful range of starters.
The main dish that was had was the Black Cod Saiko Yaki. This cod fillet was cooked on Ginza Onodera’s Robata grill. What makes this grill unique is that it produces a uniform heat due to the Japanese “Binchotan” charcoal. It is made using Ubame oak.
The Black Cod Saiko Yaki had been marinated for 48 hours in saiko miso sauce. The white miso sauce was made from rice whereas it is more often made from soy. The Canadian black cod fillet was served with delicate seaweed, pickle and lotus root. A crunchy thin rice cracker topped the fish. The skin on black cod was grilled to perfection. There was a slight sweetness which was wonderful. The sauce that the fish was sat on had salty notes as it was made from kyoto miso and soy sauce. The sauce was topped with little rice balls. The small tower of pickles contained the melt in the mouth seaweed as well as shallots and the lotus root.
This Black Cod Saiko Yaki was melt in the mouth and so delicious. I had never tasted anything like it before. The sweet and salty flavours amalgamated. All of the textures were so good together. Again, there was wonderful presentation on the layout and a lot of thought had gone into this and the components of the dish.
Before the main black cod dish was served, the staff informed me that the kitchen would be closing soon. They wanted me not to miss out on a dessert so gave me the chance to put in an order of one if I had wanted to. As I had been impressed with all of the staffs’ recommendations of the food, I again went with their suggestion of Hojicha Brulee. Although they did say that if I enjoyed matcha, then the Matcha Parfait would be the one for me.
Hojicha Brulee was a hot dessert. It had the classic crispy caramelised creme brulee top. Vanilla mochi ice cream served as half domes were held together by cocktail sticks. Shielding these was a sesame tuille. There was a perfect crunch to the Hojicha Brulee. There was cute dessert cutlery. The crunchy top was paper thin. Cracking through this layer revealed the toasted tea flavoured cream. What a great combination. The ice cream mochi was soft and squidgy on the outside. The contrasts of the hot and cold, soft and crunchy, satisfied the palate. There was a nice toasted flavour of the cream and the Hojicha Brulee had an almost caramelly flavour. The sesame tuille was subtly sweet.
There was great attention from the staff at Ginza Onodera. They provided meticulous and impeccable service. Small actions such as pulling out chairs so the diner can be seated, unfolding and placing the napkin and taking care of any of your bags made a big difference to the dining experience. The staff were happy to chat to customers but not in an intrusive way. They spoke softly so that they didn’t disturb other diners. There is a real attention to detail provided by the staff. Even if there was a slight crumb on the table, they would notice and clear it up. But in the process they don’t make you feel uncomfortable. Everything is to perfection for the diner.
All of the staff that served me through the meal knew exactly what I could and couldn’t have so it was great not to have to keep asking. They would constantly check with the chefs and vice versa to make certain about any ingredients that they were unsure of. It again showed that they put the customer at the forefront of the dining experience.
When each dish or course was served, the staff explained thoroughly the origins and details of the food, herbs and sauces and if it was meant to eaten in a particular way. Such as was the case for the Dobin Mushi and the Ganmodoki. The portion sizes were just right. All of the food was happily enjoyed without feeling too full for the next course. There was enough of each dish to savour the flavours and there wasn’t that notion of wishing that an extra croquette or the like was available. The different presentations of the dishes and the contrasting vibrant colours really showcased the food. All of the different plates and platters were unique and came from Japan.
For the food ingredients, Ginza Onodera sources what they can from Japan as they pride themselves on traditional Japanese food and drink. If it can’t come from Japan, then they go to the countries that they know the produce will be of the highest quality. They also support local farms and producers here in the UK.
The open spacious bar area showcases the colourful sake bottle collection. The sake are sourced from the different regions of Japan. If you’re a fan of sake, then you are spoilt for choice. On the restaurant level, there is a wall of the range of wines and also a spirits trolley.
Ginza Onodera doesn’t feel pretentious or stuffy. It is simply a high quality restaurant which puts the customer first in all aspects. It delivers amazing food in a genuine environment. It is lovely that the diner is made to feel so special.
Ginza Onodera do a three course set menu and on the weekends, an Afternoon Tea can be experienced. Other diners were having the Afternoon Tea and it looked amazing and unique. It starts with four teas in four different golden teapots and then is followed with the selection of Japanese influenced food and treats. If you are feeling decadent, then there is “The One Hundred” menu. This is pink shrimp, sea urchin and rich marble tuna.
Ginza Onodera, 15 Bury Street, London, SW1Y 6ALRating: