Hot Stone in Chapel Market is one of our fave Japanese restaurants in town and the team behind it have tried to replicate its success with a second site in Fitzrovia. It’s not been the easiest spin-off to realise, with the site first starting life as another Hot Stone, then as the high-end omakase restaurant RAI, and now as Kibako, a new concept centred around omakase-style boxes. The layout is similar to the OG Hot Stone, with a sushi bar at the front where you can watch the chefs in action, and tables at the back, and it’s pretty minimalist and formal, with lots of traditional wooden panelling and dark leather. 

As well as an a la carte offering including snacks, sashimi, carpaccio, maki rolls, grilled unagi don and A5 Kagoshina wagyu, there are three different omakase box set menus to choose from – regular, premium and A5 Wagyu & black cod. Each box features between 6 and twelve sushi and sashimi dishes, a main dish like marinated salmon or miso aubergine, served with Japanese pickles, miso soup and rice, and a seasonal dessert. 

There’s also a separate four-course menu that kicks off with additional appetisers chosen by the chef and that’s what we went for. Our extra starters included a plump Maldon rock oyster with tosazu, a dainty edamame croquette, and seared fatty tuna in a punchy red jalapeno sauce. With all the set menus you have the option to add on any of the snacks, maki rolls and sashimi as well, and we can recommend the wagyu croquette and the unagi maki roll blanketed in parmesan and crunchy tempura flakes. Parmesan is something they use liberally here, and while the idea of fish and cheese is normally a no-no, it does actually work – it’s 36-months aged so it’s super savoury and adds seasoning rather than a cheese flavour.

Our first omakase box contained 9 little appetisers, plus pickled ginger, aged soy sauce, and wasabi grated fresh at the table. Every single one was beautifully presented on different ceramics, though the highlights for us were the seaweed maki, tuna and salmon nigiri, fatty tuna sashimi and tuna tartare on crispy rice being the highlights.

The next box was the most indulgent surf and turf, with buttery A5 Wagyu and perfectly flaking black cod, served with grilled veggies, Japanese rice, pickles and homemade miso soup. That alone is a decent-sized portion, so given that we added extras on top of the two boxes, we were glad it was a light, fresh dessert of yuzu posset with yogurt foam and pineapple carpaccio.

With beautiful looking food boxes and options covering a range of budgets, third time might be a charm with Kibako.

3 Windmill Street, London, W1T 2HY