Titu: If gyoza dreams were not enough

Any restaurant that adorns its windows and website with the caption ‘#gyozadreams’ risks setting itself up for disappointment. The bar is set high, with an implied suggestion that the chef has the temerity to be able not only to interpret, but also to fulfil, my dreams. The message is also a somewhat misleading one: the gyoza served at Titu did fortuitously live up to their billing, but the restaurant is about much more than this - overall Titu shows how good modern Japanese cooking can be. By way of background, this is the first venture from Jeff Tyler, the former head chef at Novikov. It is located in a wonderful spot, a prime position at the centre of Shepherd Market. Formerly a coffee shop, the venue seats just 15 people, so advance booking is advisable. Also, if you don’t want to run the risk of disturbing other diners when you’re leaving (as we did), then don’t choose the corner table. There is a fine line between small and intimate on one hand, and cluttered and claustrophobic on the other. Understandably, Titu wants to maximise its revenues, even at the expense of convenience. The main event, of course, is the food. Our snack of fresh lotus root crisps with a corn yuzu dipping sauce, provided on arrival, set the tone perfectly. It was light, piquant and very tasty. While the menu offers six different gyoza (filled Japanese dumplings wrapped in a thin dough for the uninitiated), we also enjoyed several other small dishes as well as the extravagantly-billed ‘dream steak.’ There was not a single disappointment from the selection we sampled: tuna truffle was moist and sensual, avocado salad delicately flavoured with miso and the gyoza so very moreish. Spicy prawn and wagyu beef stood out among the fillings. Even the dream steak did not disappoint. The one catch: many small dishes add up in the sense that there was simply not enough room on our table to accommodate them all (never pleasant), while the final bill could be considered steep, at ~£60/head, without even any alcohol consumed. Cooking of this quality helps soften the financial blow and by creating such a small venue, there is certainly scope for the #gyozadreams cult to grow.