The Omakase Menu at Engawa Japanese Restaurant, London

Pete and I recently celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary, and booked dinner at Engawa restaurant to celebrate. Located in Soho (and attached to the Ham Yard hotel), Engawa specialises in wagyu (Japanese beef), specifically in Kobe wagyu. It also has a sushi counter, and guests can choose between regular tables or stools at the counter to watch the chefs.

Because they import the whole cow, Engawa are able to use all cuts of the animal, thereby offering a range of wagyu dishes, some of which are very reasonable. I was also attracted by pictures of their hakozen bento boxes filled with beautifully presented morsels.

We took the £65 per person omakase menu which includes an appetiser, an 11-piece hakozen bento of sashimi and vegetables, and a main course of either wagyu with salad, soup and rice or a 9-piece sushi selection with soup. There is also an £85 per person version which adds an additional special of the day, and dessert. In both cases, you can upgrade from the standard wagyu to a more premium Kobe cut for an additional £45, which we declined.

A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London

Before the appetiser, we were served an additional amuse of noodles in a cold broth, slippery and delicate, and a refreshing flavour to kick-start the palate.

 A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London

The appetiser, presented in a double bowl with a beautiful (but somewhat akward) wooden spoon, was a pile of toro sashimi with asparagus, dashi soy jelly, wasabi and a kimchi dressing. Toro means a fatty cut from tuna, more often specified as chutoro (medium fatty) or otoro (most fatty). The jelly and dressing were fresh and brightly flavoured, contrasting well with the slippery pieces of raw tuna. Delicious!

A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London
A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London
A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London

The hakozen bento was a thing of beauty! Set down with a lid which the server then removed, inside the 15 compartments were six items of fish, five ‘vegetables’ and 4 condiments. Atop these contents were plump salted edamame (fresh soy beans) in their pods.

The sashimi items included toro, akami (lean tuna), yellowtail, salmon, seabass and bonito. Each piece of fish was superbly fresh and beautifully garnished.

Vegetables were a salad of onion, wakame (seaweed) and mizuna (Japanese mustard greens) with ume shisho dressing; bok choi in a dashi sauce; sweetcorn and edamame kakiage (fritters, served hot from the fryer); and a dish of braised aubergine, beans, butternut squash and asparagus, agedashi-style.

Lastly, a beautiful slice of dashimaki – also known as tamagoyaki, egg is beaten with dashi stock and then cooked and formed into a rectangular roll before being sliced.

Condiments included mayonnaise, fresh wasabi, a rich soy sauce and a fourth dressing that eludes my memory.

A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London
A celebratory omakase meal at Engawa Japanese restaurant in Soho, London

Neither the soup nor the salad did much for me but the grilled Ragashima wagyu was wonderful – the evenly distributed fat made it succulent and melting, and the flavour was superb. The vegetables served with the beef were so-so – I liked the purple potato crisps but the parsnip and pepper didn’t appeal. But it was all about the beef for me and I was also blown away by the gyudon (beef rice bowl), which I guess is made from off-cuts of wagyu; its rich flavour was spot on, and this classic comfort food dish transported us straight back to Japan.

To drink I ordered sencha tea (£4), which was attentively refilled throughout the meal, making it very good value. Pete had a glass of junmai-grade sake, the Kikuisami 36 Samurai (£9.50) which was light, aromatic and full of fruit on the palate.

Service was attentive and smiling, as expected. The only thing I would change would be the speed of the meal, as courses were served in very quick succession, such that the meal was done in little over an hour – we’d rather have a little gap between each course to relax and enjoy the experience, and make the most of the celebratory meal. The super speedy approach is very Japanese, but not very London, and the restaurant was almost empty, so no pressure on tables.

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24 Comments to "The Omakase Menu at Engawa Japanese Restaurant, London"

  1. NickyB

    Looks super value and delicious. We were a bit taken aback at how quickly food arrived in Japan too ?

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, it’s about efficiency rather than lingering in many places. It’s one of the reasons that we didn’t try and visit Jiro’s on our first trip, despite all the excitement from the film coming out not that long before the trip. I read that you could be in and out in well under an hour, sometimes a lot less than an hour, and I thought, nuh uh, I am not paying that kind of money for a meal so fast I don’t have any time to take it in!!!

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    Happy anniversary, what a lovely place to celebrate. Your food photos have me salivating. I love Japanese food and yes, I remember the food service in Japan was incredibly fast too!

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth

    What an extraordinary meal! That bento is definitely a thing of beauty – almost too pretty to eat! I’m glad you had such a lovely time. Happy anniversary!

    Reply
  4. Katherine

    Happy Anniversary! Those bento boxes are absolutely stunning. Talk about eating with the eyes – so many carefully constructed dishes.

    Reply
  5. Lisa

    This looks like my kind of place to dine! I love Japanese food, and toro is one of my favourite types of sushi! I’ve tried Wagyu before, and would definitely like to try it again. I’ll definitely be booking a table here in the near future, it looks delicious!

    Reply
  6. Ceri Jones

    I have to say I am not always that adventures with my food from this part of the world, but I know you are, and if I want a good restaurant recommendation I will know where to come. Always. Happy anniversary guys!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I really love Japanese food, and many other South East Asian cuisines too! Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Annick

    What a wonderful anniversary dinner enjoying the Omakase menu at the Engawa Japanese Restaurant! The noodles in cold broth is a different twist on the usual broth with mushrooms I see served. That bento box is a thing of beauty! I really like the variety of the different items which all look delicious!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, I hadn’t had anything quite like that cold noodle broth. The bento was stunning!

    Reply
  8. blair villanueva

    Japanese foods are my favorite especially the omakase. That feeling of excitement waiting for what the chef will serve you is the best. Omakase is always something special, a work or art.

    Reply
  9. Catherine Salvador Mendoza

    I love Japanese foods! My most favourite ones are ramen and yakitori! Tho £65 per person is quite pricey for me based on my experiences in some Japanese restaurants. But of course, it is London. And in Japan, some really high-quality restaurants can range even up to $300! Japanese chefs are one of the best!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Most places serving ramen or yakitori are significantly cheaper, but for a higher end restaurant, this is a reasonable price for a fairly extensive set menu. You can order a la carte for a less expensive meal if you prefer.

    Reply
  10. Neha T

    OMG this food goes beyond me. But the presentation leaves me speechless. The appetizer offered in the double bowl with a wooden spoon just got my attention too. Food is indeed an art.

    Reply
  11. Parnashree Devi

    I have recently tasted Japanese food at Morimoto Doha and I loved it so much. The food looks great and the pictures are absolutely stunning. Now I am hungry suddenly

    Reply
  12. Aaron (@1dish4the4road)

    Happy anniversary, you two! This place looks a real treat to celebrate in too – such captivating photos! I really must explore London’s Japanese food scene – I feel I’ve barely touched the surface..

    Reply

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