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Along with nearby Neo Bistro, Cubé is making the shop-worn corner of Mayfair close to Oxford Street an unlikely destination for reasonably priced top-end cuisine served with personality and warmth. Not that Cubé is cheap (good Japanese food never is), but the menu of inventive Asian tapas married with beautifully crafted sushi is a snip compared to some bigger names nearby. Get up close and personal at the counter as chef Osamu Mizuno (ex-Sake No Hana) delivers an “exquisite performance” in the narrow open kitchen or sit at one of the proper tables in the sparsely decorated (and slightly muted) dining room. We loved everything we ate, from the traditional (silky agedashi tofu in a limpid broth and meltingly soft tuna o-toro atop beautifully defined nigiri rice) to the innovative – who knew that eel with mango and foie gras would make such a successful sushi topping? There are also some downright bonkers ideas – our cheese, cod roe and lotus root ‘sandwich’ was a delirious umami wallop of deep savouriness. Downstairs, a 12-seat hideaway bar serves rare wines with low marks-ups alongside premium Japanese whiskies.
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25 September 2017
Does London need another over-priced sushi restaurant? Admittedly good Japanese food is never cheap and Cubé (an irritating name that made me think of maths) has tried to go for a twist on the conventional by offering tapas as well as sushi, but I certainly didn’t come away from here in any sense wowed. I think the problem is one of identity: it’s not clear what Cubé wants to be: classic Japanese or something slightly different and more trendy, hence the dissonance throughout our visit. The interior is a clear homage to the traditional – think simplicity with wood panelling and open view into the preparation area – and should diners wish, they can witness an exquisite performance from the chef in action with knives and all. However, from our table on the edge of things, the atmosphere felt somewhat muted throughout the evening, even if the place did fill up and the staff tried their hardest to be friendly. The food started promisingly with both the cold and hot tapas dishes impressing: a succulent spicy tuna tartare and ibercio pork steak demonstrating the kitchen’s prowess from different ends of the spectrum. Our six tapas dishes (for our party of three) arrived swiftly and were similarly ingested with speed. There was then a very long wait for the sushi, which was, well… pretty average, almost an anti-climax given the anticipation. We also received poor advice from our server as the sushi portion was vastly insubstantial for our group, necessitating a second order for more and then another wait. Had Cubé perhaps thought about it, then more tapas – their differentiator – and less sushi might have made more sense – even if the metaphorical horse had clearly already left the stable by this stage. A £60+ bill per person (when we were only drinking beer) also seemed steep. Best characterised a work-in-progress; there is potential here, but I would rather be spending this sort of money at nearby Ikeda or Sakana-tei.
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