I knew Junsei, a Japanese restaurant that Chef Patron Aman Lakhiani, who was born in Indonesia but raised in London, launched a year ago, was going to be fantastic. I was anticipating a new experience because of his dordle background at the Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Dos Palillos in Barcelona and his training at the Tsukiji Sushi Academy in Tokyo.
Using every portion of the bird for its yakitori (literally “grilled bird”), Junsei also serves kushiyaki vegetable skewers, raised donabe (rice) bowls, and seasonal Japanese hot plates.
Around 36 people can dine at Junsei, and we sat at the counter and on the high stools to watch the sous chef prepare our meal with Binchtan charcoal. He was flipping little skewers of something juicy until they were charred and ready to serve; the lighting was dim, and it was almost hypnotic to watch him work.
Beverages & Eats
Omakase is the Japanese term for a tasting menu in which the diner gives complete control of the meal preparation to the chef.
Binchtan charcoal was used in most of the preparations because it allows for even cooking from the inside out, giving the meat a juicy texture and a pure finish that brings out the chicken’s individual flavors. Vegetables on skewers will receive a lovely scorched flavor as well.
Akitabare Spring Snow Sake, a dry yet slightly sweet sake, was chosen because it complements the dish by cutting through the richness and fat of the meats. The steady arrival of plates meant that it functioned perfectly.
Two delicious bites of charred cherry tomato with chilli miso served as an Amuse Bouche before the main course of six skewers of grilled chicken. Chicken thigh with 50-year-old tare sauce (Momo), chicken wing (Tebasaki), chicken oyster (Shiso Maki), chicken breast (Sasami) with shiso leaf and homemade plum paste (ume)
Two vegetable skewers were also served, one with okra marinated in shoyu and sprinkled with katsuobushi, and the other with baby potatoes topped with wagyu aioli (bonito flakes). The last was comical since the flakes bounced around on the okra before settling.
The highlight of the meal was the chicken meatballs topped with an egg yolk and a tari sauce. The chicken ball is dunked into a mixture of egg yolk and tari. Yummy and entertaining.
In the midst of that, two rice bowls containing braised oxtail and seabream appeared, as well as a Hamachi (yellowtail) tartare with ponzu and a spicy shiso seasoning. A drink of Umushu, a Japanese plum liqueur, helped us wash it all down. It’s quite sugary on its own, but it went perfectly with my coke.
We were stuffed to the gills, but when the Kurumitsu (Japanese brown sugar) ice cream with grilled grapes and puffed rice arrived, we somehow managed to make room.