Kurobuta first burst onto the London restaurant scene in 2014 as a pop up on the King’s Road in Chelsea, led by Aussie chef Scott Hallsworth. It proved an instant hit and soon opened a permanent site in the area, followed by a sibling site in Marble Arch.
Fast forward to the present day and Hallsworth has long since departed the business and the Chelsea site is closed. The Marble Arch outpost is still up and running though, having recently been acquired by the Enhanced Hospitality group. Once inside, you’ll find a smart Japanese-inspired dining room featuring bare wooden tables, a partially open kitchen and fun wallpaper depicting scenes that look like they’ve been ripped straight from Manga comics.
Kurobuta’s menu takes its cue from Japan’s famous rock ‘n’ roll izakayas, where small plates and drinks add some pep to the evening. The flavours here are bold and in-your-face, and while the menu offers riffs on familiar sushi, maki and tempura, it also includes some less conventional takes on Japanese ‘junk’ food, such as a ‘pizza’ which is served on a base similar in crunch to taco shells and topped with fresh tuna sashimi, an earthy truffle ponzu and bursts of tokibo.
Other top orders include the addictive Kuro fried chicken which is paired with a kimchi mayonnaise rich with umami flavour, while BBQ pork belly bao buns are delightfully messy, slicked with a sticky peanut soy sauce. We were less impressed by sushi rolls filled with soft shell crab tempura, which lacked the inherent sweetness of the crab. Puddings pulled things back though, thanks to a trio of refreshing, creamy mochi balls (raspberry, mango, coconut) drizzled with a raspberry coulis.
As far as the drinks list, classic cocktails are all present and accounted for, but it would be remiss not to try one of the Japanese-inspired sips, such as the Cherry Blossom: Prosecco topped up with cherry and lychee liqueurs. Kurobuta is also decent value for this part of town, while the set lunch menu (three courses for £15.95) is a particular steal.
Kurobuta is a boisterous and bold take on Japan’s Izakaya bars. Sure, it’s not the most authentic brand of Japanese fare (that’s not really the point), but it sure is a lot of fun.