No11 [Restaurant] Harmony in Mayfair
Tucked away among the bustle and boutiques of London’s Mayfair on a side street lies a Japanese restaurant called Nagomi that is a haven from it all. ‘Nagomi’ in Japanese means ‘harmony’ and this really sets the tone of the restaurant. With is traditional zen interior and minimalist décor the ambience itself relaxes you. The dim lighting and softly playing Jazz music help to build this effect. The joy of Japanese food is that is not as structured as the European three course meal and ordering a number of smaller dishes is common. Nagomi’s deep fried Aubergine with sweet Miso paste ‘Nasu Dengaku’ is definitely recommended. The aubergine is first deep fried and then the special Miso paste is added and it is then grilled which caramelizes the miso. The sweet aubergine contrasts wonderfully with the savoury miso. Another highlight is their ‘Squid Tempura’. Often with Tempura’s the crust can be too overpowering and oily and take over the flavor of the squid This one was light and had a golden crust that didn’t get soggy when dipped – or soaked in my case – in the very tasty soya, fish and kelp stock base sauce which accompanies it. Tip, it is served with small strips of white horseradish which combine amazingly when thrown in to the sauce to soak a little. Another specialties of Nagomi is their ‘Deep fried soft shell crab’. It is deep-fried and crunchy and the flesh is lovely and rich. Nagomi have a well experienced Sushi chef and the ‘Aburi salmon sushi’ is amazing and beautifully presented. The salmon is seared which gives it a wonderful two tone pinkness and really enhances the flavour. The ‘Aburi Pickled Mackerel sushi’ is also delectable, being not too salty or overpowering. One of the Nagomi’s own creations is their ‘Ramen noodle salad’. It is a bed of ramen noodles covered in a crisp green salad and sweet cherry tomato’s with Japanese mayonnaise – slightly more tangy than our own variety – generously latticed over it. It is a great summer dish being light but filling also. The ‘house’ dessert is Green tea and Sesame Ice cream with azuki bean jam and soy flour. It is a grand array of color on a plate. The deep asphalt grey color of the sesame ice cream and the rich green tea looked very tempting when showered in sweetened golden soy flour finished with a dollop of dark red azuki bean jam. The combination of the nuttiness of the sesame with the green tea and soy flour was exquisite. The clientèle are mainly Japanese; Savvy Japanese businessmen and a well heeled fashionable younger set which gives Nagomi an interesting and quirky vibe and the feeling that you could be dining in a Japanese city rather than in central London. The staff are friendly and attentive and know a lot about the food on offer. The restaurant is on two floors and they both have there own atmospheres. The upstairs is more quiet and relaxing whereas the downstairs basement area has a lively bar area and serves a variety of Japanese cocktails as well as a floor sitting dining area. Their fresh Grapefruit and gin cocktail has a lovely sweetness and followed by a nicely sharp after taste. Nagomi is a unique restaurant to come and enjoy excellent Japanese dishes in a relaxing setting in central London.