My favourite restaurants: Jun Tanaka

The Michelin-starred chef patron of The Ninth in Fitzrovia shares his top picks, taking us from the shores of Loch Tyne to San Sebastian.

Updated on • Written By Victoria Semark-Masters

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My favourite restaurants: Jun Tanaka

A regular face on TV as well as a cookbook author and, of course, chef patron of The Ninth in Fitzrovia, Jun Tanaka is a firm and recognizable fixture of the UK food scene. Over the last 30 years Jun has worked in a good handful of London's most iconic, recognisable restaurants - a career that started when, as a 19 year old starting in kitchens, he asked his father for a list of the best restaurants in London. He subsequently wrote to all of them asking to work in their kitchens, and was rewarded with an apprenticeship at Le Gavroche. 


Jun has worked with a collection of legendary chefs during his storied career. As well as working with the Roux family, Jun has also cooked under the wing of Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico, where he spent two years working every section. Jun then worked under Marco Pierre White at both Les Saveurs and Restaurant Marco Pierre White, as well as sous-cheffing at The Capital and The Square before becoming head chef at Chives and executive chef of Pearl at the Chancery Court Hotel.

When he opened The Ninth in 2015, it was instantly well-received, and two years later the restaurant received a Michelin star, leading Jun to even greater heights. Tanaka's love of classic French technique remains in his cookery Mediterranean-style cookery, but The Ninth marries his kitchen education with his creative eye for flavours, and his restaurant has long been admired for innovative pasta dishes and signature pain perdu dessert with tonka bean ice cream.

The UK restaurant scene has changed so much over the last few decades, so who better to go to for a few restaurant recommendations than Jun himself? We asked the question and he duly answered, with his personal recommendations in the UK (and a cheeky bonus restaurant in Spain) for you to visit. 

Perilla, London


Jun says: ‘This place always makes my list of favourite restaurants. Matt and Ben have created a unique neighbourhood restaurant. Ben’s cooking is a contemporary take on classic European flavours, and the dishes are creative, beautifully presented and most importantly delicious! I’ve eaten here a lot and every time I do, I’m impressed with the creativity and flavour of the food, so much so that I asked to spend a day in their kitchen. The service is warm and makes you feel at ease instantly. Juste the sommelier has curated an interesting selection of natural wines and she’s great at recommending the perfect wine to match the food.’
Where: 1-3 Green Lanes, Newington Green, N16 9BS
Book now: Perilla

Inver, Scotland


Jun says: ‘Pam and Rob have created a magical dining experience with Inver. The restaurant is located on the shores of Loch Tyne and the view is breathtaking! Pam’s food focuses on showcasing the local, wild and farmed produce. The dishes are her take on traditional and forgotten Scottish dishes. I ate one of the best fish dishes here which was a halibut head with home-made 'nduja. I would highly recommend staying in one of their beautiful bothies and staying for the amazing breakfast.’
Where: Strathlacklan, Strachur, Argyll & Bute, PA27 8BU
Book now: Inver

Midland Grand Dining Room, London 

Midland Dining Room

Jun says: ‘I dined here recently and it is one of the best meals that I’ve eaten this year. Patrick has reinvigorated this restaurant with his modern interpretation of classic French brasserie dishes. It’s a menu that’s hard to choose from because you want to eat everything on it. My favourites were the snails bourguignon, the veal sweetbreads vol-au-vont and confit lamb navarin. I can’t wait to go back and try their Sunday lunch menu!’
Where: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, NW1 2AR
Book now: Midland Grand Dining Room

Primeur, London 


Jun says: ‘I’m a huge fan of this restaurant. I dine here more often than any other restaurant. For me, this is the perfect neighbourhood spot. The dishes are small plates of very simple, European dishes celebrating local seasonal produce. The menus changes daily so there’s always something new to try. The service is super friendly and the vibe is relaxed and warm. It’s one of the reasons I love living in this area.’
Where: Barnes Motors, 116 Petherton Road, N5 2RT
Book now: Primeur

Ganbara, San Sebastian


Jun says: ‘I love this place! It’s my favourite pintxos bar in San Sebastian. This is Basque cuisine at its finest! Beautiful local produce, cooked very simply. They have a few signature dishes that are not to be missed - the mushrooms and egg yolk, spider crab tarts, tomato salad and tuna belly carpaccio. But to be honest, you can’t go wrong here, whatever you order. The only downside is that no matter what time of the year you visit, it has the longest queue in San Sebastian. However, it’s definitely worth it!’
Where: Calle de San Jeronimo, 21, 20003 Donostia-San Sebastian

Keen to discover some more recommendations from the UK's top chefs? Check out the top five favourites from the likes of Chet SharmaNuno Mendes and Theo Randall to find out where they like to eat.

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