1. The Araki:12 New Burlington St, London W1S 3BF, +44 20 7287 2481 When fine sushi in London is concerned, The Araki has no competition. Master Mitsuhiro Araki gave away his 3 Michelin stars in Tokyo and moved to London to be near his daughter while she studies there. The Araki(2*) is known for the most expensive sushi omakase in London and the luxurious ingredients used for the otsumami and the sushi. While many like to focus on the obscene amount of truffles shaved on fatty tuna tartars and caviar topped nigiri, what is really special about The Araki is a chance to sit in front of the master and have sushi made by him. Personally I find caviar unnecessary for traditional Edo-mae sushi and it’s Araki-san skills and know- how what I enjoy most at his sushi-ya.
2. Umu : 14-16 Bruton Pl, Mayfair, London W1J 6LX, +44 20 7499 8881 Many Japanese restaurants in London follow similar formula, which has been invented by Nobu Matsuhisa, where loud,bubbly and glamorous (or “wannabe” glamorous) atmosphere wins over the quality of food. That’s why, surprisingly or not surprisingly, London has very little authentic Japanese restaurants.(even compared to Paris!) Umu(2*) is one of the few, who managed to find the balance between the “see and be seen” atmosphere and authenticity. While you can certainly enjoy the vibe at Umu, you will also have some of the finest Japanese kaiseki dishes in Europe. The sushi is less impressive than the rest of the cooking, but very good nonetheless.
3. Sushi Testu : 12 Jerusalem Passage, London EC1V 4JP, tel. +44 20 3217 0090 Before the opening of The Araki in 2014, Sushi Tetsu was considered the best authentic sushi counter restaurant in London. The 7 places sushi-ya has kept its following and is still very hard to book. Chef Toru Takahashi is Nobu alumni, so don’t expect completely traditional Edo-mae sushi there.
4. Yashin Sushi: 1A Argyll Rd, Kensington, London W8 7DB, tel. +44 20 7938 1536 While I was not a fan of its Wagyu roll, the sushi was technically right and some of the nigiris were very good. The fish Yashin uses is from Atari-ya wholesaler, who is the supplier of all the best sushi restaurants in London. (Including The Araki and Umu). Premium sashimi quality fish at Atari-ya’s West Acton shop is the best kept secret in London.
5. Dinings: 22 Harcourt St, Marylebone, London W1H 4HH, tel. +44 20 7723 0666 Dinings is another Japanese restaurant in London, whose chef used to work at Nobu. It is probably better at its izakaya style dishes, but if you sit at the counter and talk directly to the sushi chefs, you will have an enjoyable sushi experience as well.