Jikoni

Indian, International·
££££
·
Bronze Award
·

SquareMeal Review of Jikoni

Bronze Award

Jikoni’s dusty pink awnings, patterned textiles and floral tablecloths have proven to be a perfect fit in Marylebone Village, slotting in nicely in this curated, boutiquey part of London. There’s a warmth and energy that extends from Ravinder Bhogal and through her team - stepping through the entrance curtain into Jikoni really does feel like entering her home, and her free-spirited approach to flavours does have a ‘dinner at an insanely talented friend’s house’ sort of vibe.

The dining room manages to stay away from being too cutesy and kitsch, but it still has plenty of Instagram potential. White walls and marble tabletops keep things smart, but everything else feels like home, right down to the abundance of scatter cushions spread over bench seating, and soft fabric lampshades that cast gentle light across the room.

Jikoni means ‘kitchen’ in Swahili, and Bhogal’s east African-cum-Indian-cum-British heritage is reflected in a menu that infuses comforting Brit classics with exotic spices. Witness her take on the Scotch egg – a Jikoni signature that sees soft, gooey quail’s egg wrapped in a prawn toast mix, served with banana ketchup.

A generous plate of charred Brussels sprouts arrived under a hot and sour dressing and a big handful of bonito flakes; hot, sour, sweet, with some umami fish funk, it’s a very well-judged dish that we’d eat twice over. Likewise a larger bowl of gently-poached scallops with congee, turmeric and lemongrass was a warm, comforting hug in a bowl that we finished with ease.

Jikoni often nails the flavours, but not everything is so well-executed in terms of technique. A delicious woodland mushroom vol-au-vent with saffron cream was slightly marred by tough puff pastry, for example. Likewise, a good apple and blackberry roulade felt a little heavy on cream and light on meringue - a subjective point perhaps.

The restaurant remains wonderful in its idiosyncrasies, and it’s a lovely place to enjoy dinner and an excellent cocktail - we recommend the pomegranate and fig leaf negroni.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Indian, International
Ambience
Cool, Cosy, Fun, Quirky
Food Occasions
Brunch, Dinner
Special Features
Chef’s table, Counter dining, Vegetarian options, Wheelchair access
People
Child friendly, Group dining [8+], Special occasions

About

Born in Kenya to Indian parents, Ravinder Bhogal's multicultural upbringing is just the start of what makes Jikoni so unique. 'No Borders Kitchen' is the tagline, and the menu takes inspiration from far and wide, honouring the shared flavours and cultures across South Asian and the Far East, as well as the Middle East, East Africa and Britain.

Bhogal's belief is that the combinations created by cooking across borders always result in more delicious food, and Jikoni leans into a family-oriented style of cooking that exists in immigrant families like her own, rather than the classical French style that London's restaurant culture was built on. The prawn toast Scotch egg is a perfect example of that, a melding of two distinct dishes from different sides of the world. 

The rest of the menu is equally eclectic. Small plates might include Orkney scallop congee with Sichuan chilli oil, burrata with beetroot, cashew and curry leaf oil, and roasted celeriac, kimchi salsa and hazelnuts. Alternatively, there are larger plates that act as single mains, which could be a butternut squash moilee with lemon rice, crispy aubergine with Sichuan caramel or the signature fish pie with cod, prawn, spinach and saffron sauce.

Aside from the tempting food, Jikoni is also one of London's prettiest dining rooms, in shades of pastel pink, white and natural wood, with bright patterned tablecloths and lampshades. Cushions are piled along the wood banquettes, and beautiful block-printed linens are stacked in a corner. Incidentally, those linens are hand-made and available to buy at the restaurant if you so wish. The intention is that this restaurant should feel like an extension of Bhogal's own kitchen - the dining room is relaxed and comforting, as are the food and the service. As unfussy yet elevated and unusual dining goes, this is one of the best spots in the city. 


FAQs

Does the restaurant host private events?

Yes you can book it for events and private dining.

Helpful? 0

What cuisine is served here?

An international blend, themed around the slogan of a 'no borders kitchen'.

Helpful? 0

Are there vegetarian options?

Yes, there are plenty of vegetarian options.

Helpful? 0

Location

19-21 Blandford Street, Marylebone, London, W1D 3DH

020 7034 1988 020 7034 1988

Website

Opening Times

Brunch
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu Closed
Fri Closed
Sat 11:00-16:00
Sun 11:00-16:00
Lunch
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu Closed
Fri Closed
Sat Closed
Sun 17:30-21:00
Dinner
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 17:30-22:00
Thu 17:30-22:00
Fri 17:30-22:00
Sat 17:30-22:00
Sun Closed

Reviews

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7 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Lois

24 November 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

This restaurant is full of warmth and joy - Ravinder Bhogal's cooking is so inventive and clever too, it's like nothing else in London. You always leave full, happy and blown away by the flavour. 

Helen V

05 April 2019  
Incredible clever fusion food that is authentic and new at the same time, provided by the most welcoming team anywhere in London.

Helen V

27 June 2018  
Eating at Jikoni is properly addictive - every time I take friends there it becomes one of their regular haunts too. The food is such a distinctive blend of Asian and African influences and the welcome is always the warmest.

Helen V

30 May 2017  
A truly distinctive food offering mixing indian,african and north african flavours in a range sharable small plates and stunning main dishes. The visuals of the restaurant conjure up a trip to the exotic but retain a welcoming cosiness. The staff love the food and mix incredible cocktails.

Alex G

17 November 2016  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 2.5
Atmosphere 4
Value 2.5
Pushing at the boundaries
The appetite for the new and the slightly different seems almost insatiable when it comes to restaurant openings. And so onto the scene comes Jikoni, which could arguably claim to be London’s first restaurant that is Swahili-influenced. Indeed, the restaurant takes its name from the local word used in the Great Lakes area of Africa for ‘kitchen.’ However, chef Ravinder Bhogal has done a very clever thing. She has taken two much-loved cuisines – British and Indian – and breathed a new breath of life into them, by infusing them with East African influences. And it works. Certainly, when a comrade and I visited for dinner on a recent weekday night, there was not a table free. I was, of course, happy to perch at the bar until our reserved place became free to sample one of the house cocktails – a chilli-infused Gin Martini, which packed the kick of alcohol with a twist of spice and an undertone of sweetness provided by the addition of orange and ginger marmalade. It also gave me the chance to survey the scene. Ms. Bhogal has certainly done an excellent job in creating a sense of homeliness, a slightly kitsch version of cool with an appropriately eclectic musical soundtrack to accompany. The menu is simple, comprising just four small plates and six mains. We opted to share ‘cauliflower popcorn’ and a ‘chargrilled concertina squid’ to start. Both arrived full of visual flair and a broad canvas of flavours. To find squid in a non-battered form was a quasi-revelation and the choice to pair it with artichoke and crumbed chorizo was a bold master-stroke that paid off. Similar plaudits to the mains of pan-fried Haloumi and a mutton Keema. I normally avoid Haloumi, finding it to be a bland offering, generally served as an after-thought to appease vegetarians. Here, however, it took on a new form, its texture integrating yet contrasting with the pilaf of freekeh, while the overall dimension of the dish was enhanced by pickled lemon (a stalwart in the Ottolenghi kitchen) and the use of dukkah (an Egyptian spice blend). Had we been a larger group, then I certainly would have been keen to see if this standard could have been maintained across all the dishes on offer – perhaps this was the chef’s logic in keeping the menu tight and focused. Certainly, seemed to push more culinary boundaries than its predecessor on the site, Roganic. However, Jikoni should not rest on its laurels. Service was distinctly lacking – hard to get waiters’ attention and irregular pouring of our wine stood out as failings. The wine list too bordered on the incomprehensible and probably needs some work. These qualms aside, the potential is here. The Swahili kitchen has arrived.

Richard E

14 November 2016  
Food & Drink 3.5
Service 0.5
Atmosphere 2
Value 1.5
Nice enough (but pricey) food; need to work on the service
Things you can do in 45 minutes: (1) watch a full half of football; (2) watch a full half of rugby AND have time to get a pint; (3) watch a couple of innings of baseball and need several pints; or (4) wait for your brunch to arrive at Jikoni with just a glass of water for company. Things you can do in five minutes: (1) well obviously that; (2) drink a pint before going back to the second half of the football, rugby or (if you REALLY insist) baseball; (3) complete the Daily Mail crossword/Guardian Sudoku; or (4) eat the brunch that you waited 45 minutes to get at Jikoni. The restaurant looks like somebody's front room. Somebody who likes chintz and big cushions. Lots of big cushions. That is about the only thing big though, as the portions are wee. Tasty, but tiny. A "sloppy joe" burger, all dripping and spicy meat, was nicely cooked and nicely spiced, but at £11.50, is about a fiver overpriced. The kikapu chicken too was gorgeous; crispy and hot, with a nice tang and moist meat, but two pieces of fried chicken for £12.50 is a touch on the rich side, even for the fifty-something Harley Street rhinoplasty consultants who, according to the lamentable Ms Dent, seem to be the only people who now inhabit Marylebone. Jikoni is a pretty spot to wait for your overpriced morsel but, after 40 minutes of no food arriving, we asked what was going on, to be told that they were a man ("or rather a woman") down in the kitchen. You know; if you'd told me that up front I might have decided to wait, or might have left. If I'd left, I would have come back. Now I know I never will.

Anon

21 September 2016  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 4
New taste experiece
Fantastic new taste experience. Love in every mouthful. Great team & hospitality. Should become a Marylebone institution.
Book a table

Call Jikoni to make a booking on:

020 7034 1988 020 7034 1988

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