This article is written by our guest author Zeren Wilson.
Novikov, Asian Restaurant
Arkady Novikov. Russian Big Dog and owner of over forty restaurants in Russia. Two restaurants in one behemoth of a site off Berkeley Square is how he has announced himself with his first opening outside of Russia – he’s not messing around. The Asian restaurant occupies the front of the building, a hefty 130 covers, while the Italian restaurant sprawls behind even larger, 150 covers in a high ceilinged space.
We tried the Asian restaurant where Head Chef Jeff Styler has been installed, carrying solid experience from the Mandarin Oriental group, Roka in London, and a period in Japan honing his sushi and tempura skills.
The room has taken elements of Hakkasan, Zuma and Roka and melded them into one, not a bad place to start when it comes to restaurant design. Sleek and sassy, managing to pull it off without appearing like a a sham imitation with zero class.
A large display of seafood on ice sits in front of an open kitchen in view behind glass, around twenty chefs furiously wokking and chopping – it’s an impressive sight.
The menu is intimidatingly large, the kind that leaves you umming and ahhing for an age before a decisive waiter will help you choose by pointing out their favourites – we found service to be unerringly sweet and smiley. It’s pricey, there’s no hiding the fact, but hey this is Mayfair and if you feel squeamish about the prices, then you really should have known better.
We barely scratch the surface with a first dip into the menu. Very decent Har Gau and Coriander and Shrimp dim sum are teeny tiny, and probably the most expensive in London at £6 a pop for four pieces. “New Style Sashimi” is a wow dish, thin slivers of sea bass perked up with a tricksy little dressing of yuzu and soy – £15.
The platter of sushi we have is nothing less than sparklingly perfect, buttery textured tuna, salmon and scallop. The usual temptations at a gaff like this are there, Black Cod, Wagyu beef, Dover Sole, but we swerve these and content ourselves with some juicy spicy barbecued lamb cutlets (£27) and a side of excellently cooked French beans with a pine nut and Szechuan peppercorn sauce. Silken tofu with Enoki mushrooms is a decadent little side order. A dish of stir-fried duck is the only low point, looking and tasting like a cheap Chinatown effort, not reaching the levels of the seafood.
The wine list is solid and wide-ranging, put together by Danilo Zilli, and the team is strong – I recognised several sommelier faces from previous London gaffs. Piemonte and Tuscany is particularly extensive.
As a Flash Harry restaurant its perfect, and has the necessary bling factor to pull a few Nobu regulars across the road now and again. Doormen at the entrance with clip-boards shows the aura they’re trying to create.
Out of towners will love the buzz in here on a Friday night, enjoying the bright lights of London as the music volume leaps up every hour and the lights dim. It may not quite attain the caché of a Zuma or Nobu, but everyone inside won’t care – they’ll be spending too much money to worry about that.
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