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1A Shepherd Street
Kiwi chef Jeff Tyler used to be head chef of the Asian side of flashy mega restaurant Novikov, so it’s a complete surprise that his first solo project is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it corner spot in olde worlde Shepherd Market, with space for only 15 diners (tables are bookable). What isn’t a surprise is how good the modern Japanese food is. Titu is billed as a gyoza specialist, though there’s much more to the small-plates menu than dumplings: meltingly soft tuna blobbed with a subtle jalapeno mayo and dressed with an artful frill of salad leaves, deep-fried chicken popcorn that eats like a gourmet McNugget, or a citrusy salad of chunky soft-shell crab. The dumplings themselves are served linked like conjoined twins attached by a filigree of lacy batter; we preferred the warmly spiced chicken and foie gras version to Wagyu gyoza that seemed like an ostentatious intrusion from Novikov.
Prices, while not exactly cheap, are something of a bargain for Mayfair given the quality of the ingredients and cooking. And while the tiny dimensions mean this is not somewhere to come to discuss anything remotely confidential, the charming staff somehow find space to mix the likes of Pisco Sours and Espresso Martinis. We’ll definitely be back – perhaps after a matinee at the nearby Curzon Mayfair.
To celebrate the Year of the Woman, SquareMeal is running a series of interview profiles with top female chefs. Read here how Angela Hartnett made it to the top, launched her own group of restaurants and how she describes the secrets of her success.
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1A Shepherd Street
Green Park Tube Station 255m
Hyde Park Corner Tube Station 832m
Curzon Mayfair Cinema 143m
Green Park 274m
Mon-Fri 8am-11am Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 5-11.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
Any restaurant that adorns its windows and website with the caption ‘#gyozadreams’ risks setting itself up for disappointment. The bar is set high, with an implied suggestion that the chef has the temerity to be able not only to interpret, but also to fulfil, my dreams. The message is also a somewhat misleading one: the gyoza served at Titu did fortuitously live up to their billing, but the restaurant is about much more than this - overall Titu shows how good modern Japanese cooking can be. By way of background, this is the first venture from Jeff Tyler, the former head chef at Novikov. It is located in a wonderful spot, a prime position at the centre of Shepherd Market. Formerly a coffee shop, the venue seats just 15 people, so advance booking is advisable. Also, if you don’t want to run the risk of disturbing other diners when you’re leaving (as we did), then don’t choose the corner table. There is a fine line between small and intimate on one hand, and cluttered and claustrophobic on the other. Understandably, Titu wants to maximise its revenues, even at the expense of convenience. The main event, of course, is the food. Our snack of fresh lotus root crisps with a corn yuzu dipping sauce, provided on arrival, set the tone perfectly. It was light, piquant and very tasty. While the menu offers six different gyoza (filled Japanese dumplings wrapped in a thin dough for the uninitiated), we also enjoyed several other small dishes as well as the extravagantly-billed ‘dream steak.’ There was not a single disappointment from the selection we sampled: tuna truffle was moist and sensual, avocado salad delicately flavoured with miso and the gyoza so very moreish. Spicy prawn and wagyu beef stood out among the fillings. Even the dream steak did not disappoint. The one catch: many small dishes add up in the sense that there was simply not enough room on our table to accommodate them all (never pleasant), while the final bill could be considered steep, at ~£60/head, without even any alcohol consumed. Cooking of this quality helps soften the financial blow and by creating such a small venue, there is certainly scope for the #gyozadreams cult to grow.
Dined next to a group of senior ladies-who-lunch whose conversation about The Goring vs Petersham Nurseries was entertaining. Though their presence felt somewhat incongruous to the surroundings and menu.
A complimentary snack of deep fried lotus root was heavenly, mainly due to the addictive yuzu mayonnaise served with it. Wine list was interesting and not overly pricey. Popcorn chicken to start was improved on with another pilfered pot of yuzu mayo. Crunchy prawns with deliciously crispy heads disappeared in seconds. Soft shell crab salad was fabulous (the crab stayed crispy despite the dressing), but the foie and chicken gyoza were the star of the show, once we had freed them from their lacey batter.
A trip to the loo felt distinctly nautical with very narrow, steep steps descending into the world's teeniest loo, next to the galley-style kitchen. How they knock dishes of this quality out of that tiny hole is beyond me!
A great addition to the area, best for a couple as too small for larger groups.
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