First it was Humble Chicken and now another new yakitori joint has flown into Central London. Junsei in Marylebone is one sleek spot, there’s lots of dark grey furnishings, light wood and splashes of gold, with the open kitchen at the back end of the room. There are a handful of seats at the counter here giving you a view of all the grilling action, and this is the best place to sit, especially if you go for the omakase menu – more on that later.
There are around 20 types of skewers, cooked over Japanese Binchōtan charcoal, on the a la carte menu including various chicken yakitori and different veggie kushiyaki, plus a selection of sharing plates and rice dishes like sea scallop with trumpet mushroom, A5 wagyu rib cap, and chicken & mushroom donabe. That does mean there are a lot of possible combos, so if you’d rather someone else does the choosing for you, go for the omakase menu.
The chefs choose a selection of yakitori, plus a couple of specials that aren’t on the menu, so you get a spread of skewers and small plates to give you a real taste of what Junsei is all about. The yakitori selection we were given included thigh, heart, shiso breast with ume, wing, chicken oyster (which was a special) and the tskune meatball with egg yolk and tare dip. The thigh, chicken oyster, and wing were our faves but we were pleasantly surprised by the heart and its light gamey flavour, and the garlic kushiyaki was particularly excellent too.
The skewers were interspersed with another special dish of crispy mushrooms stuffed with chicken mince, which for us didn’t pack a huge punch flavour-wise but it’s certainly a clever way to use up an extra bits chicken offcuts, and grilled sea bream on steamed rice, which was a nice way to break up the meat.
The omakase finished with a delicate dessert of strawberry water mochi with chopped plums and soy cream – they make the mochi in house from arrowroot and tapioca so it’s light and bouncy and not as gelatinous as rice mochi, and it’s a great way to round off the meal.
Junsei is doing a high-end take on yakitori, so while it won’t break the bank it’s not a budget meal either, but you’re definitely getting the real deal here, and if you do feel like splashing out, there’s sake, shochu and Japanese whisky for you to dive into.
132 Seymour Place, London, W1H 1NS
Photo credit: Justin De Souza