Glass discovers Notting Hill’s stylish Japanese gastropub Ukai

THE minute I heard of Ukai I was intrigued. A sushi gastropub? Yes London, it’s been too long. No pretentious minimalism. No too-small plates. Just hearty sushi and the relaxed atmosphere of your local. If your local was incredibly stylish and kitted out with eclectic Japanese-meets-vintage-fair décor, a Sunday soul band and an art deco cocktail bar out front.

Eel sushi at Ukai

We were immediately greeted by the incredibly knowledgeable (and friendly) head chef, Alex, who treated us to a smorgasbord of Japanese fusion delicacies. I wolfed down the Truffle White Tuna Tataki with a speed that probably did not do due justice to its delicate, melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness. And who could blame me? It was a knockout – the muskiness of the truffle combining perfectly with the silky sweetness of the tuna.

Succulent tataki

This was followed by a tasty eel sushi and an unholy amount of tempura – lobster tempura, scallop tempura and sweet potato tempura cut with a perfectly tart ponzu sauce. To temper our tempura we ordered some refreshing greens in the form of broccoli with sesame dressing and a sleek miso aubergine. We finished off with a palette cleansing combo of hot sake and cold cold yuzu and coconut mocha. Altogether a great meal full of intense flavours and the most seductive textures.

Head chef Alex adding the final touches

Alex’s passion for UKAI is obvious. ROKA trained and hailing from Turin, he is as much inspired by the earthy flavours of Italy as the culinary heritage of Japan, creating a winning combination that had us questioning why every other gastropub can’t be so adventurous.

by Lucy Wai

Ukai , 240 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 1LL