Kurumaya: Turning truly Japanese

When is Japanese food not Japanese food? This isn’t a question from a specialist philosophy paper, but more an observation about how much of the Japanese dining scene in London has seemingly morphed into what has been dictated as ‘cool’ and instantly Instagram-able by many trend-setters. If, however, you’re looking for authenticity (and the antithesis of a venue such as Sushi Samba), then consider Kurumaya. Located on one of the oldest streets in the City of London, Kurumaya has a long pedigree and a head chef who has been making sushi for over 25 years. Pass the take-away pit-stop on the top floor and descend to the basement for an experience which may not seem out of place in Tokyo. Beyond the stark and austere decoration, the wood and lacquer finishes and the prominent sushi counter, there is even a room replete with tatami mats, for those who want to go the whole hog here. Onto the food, and it is broadly what one might expect: a raw fish range (sushi and sashimi) followed by an offering of more substantial mains. The emphasis is on locally sourced produce, prepared to the highest standards. Both our sushi platter and our chirashi (meaning ‘scattered around’) bowl of fish on a bed of rice had that amazing sense of freshness, so much so that one could almost taste the sea. The presentation showed the fish off to its best effect, a vividly hewed rainbow spectrum. Meanwhile, a beef teriyaki main was comparable to similar offerings sampled in Japan, with pungent beef paired against bean sprouts. Pricing was not cheap, but then it is rarely is for Japanese food. Perhaps the best indicator of the success of the venue was simply how busy it was. This is a well-kept secret worth seeking out.