Maguro: Small, but beautifully formed (November 2014)

Tucked away on a small side street in Little Venice, Maguro (Japanese for tuna) is well worth seeking out both for its food and its authenticity. With room for just 30 covers, locals in the know frequent this place and booking is well advised. We had not on this occasion, and were lucky enough to secure the one of the very few remaining tables. The décor is minimalist yet stylish, wood-panelled walls decorated with Japanese figurines and sake bottles, and low lighting. For such a small place, it is impressive that Maguro is able to offer an extensive menu, ranging across the standard sushi and sashimi options to a broader range of mains, sides and salads. Moreover, the service is quick and efficient and the presentation is first class, the chefs creating almost artistic displays in harmonious and synchronised colours. It would be hard to fault any of the dishes, but among the more notable and innovative were the crab tartare starter and the eel teriyaki steak main. The former was a delicate pale green in colour, almost melted in the mouth and had a wonderfully subtle undertone of chilli. The latter is one of my favourite options in any Japanese restaurant, yet Maguro’s was executed to perfection, tender and flavoursome and accompanied with a well-matched salad. It would be hard to find fault although worth mentioning that this is not necessarily the place to go for a long or romantic meal. Service, as mentioned, errs on the side of fast (if efficient), the place can feel crowded with people moving in the narrow aisle between the tables, and through-traffic is increased by a stream of arrivals for take-away meals. Go early in the evening and eat well.