Congratulations to Scott Hallsworth (pictured right) and all at Kurobuta, winner of the BMW Square Meal Award for Best New Restaurant. In some ways, this was an easy decision to reach: since Kurobuta first landed as a pop-up in Chelsea in autumn 2013, followed by a second branch near Marble Arch, it has always been a front-runner when we answer the question ‘where are the best places you’ve been to recently?’
And now the Chelsea pop-up has moved to permanent premises the other side of King’s Road, Kurobuta definitively tops our list of best new openings. From its free-wheeling approach to modern Japanese food to the matey Aussie staff, knockout cocktails and party-hard atmosphere – we love everything about this dynamic slice of urban life.
That’s not to dismiss the very stiff competition. Kitty Fisher’s and Portland have both brought a neighbourhood vibe and hands-on owners to West End dining – to say nothing of a winning way with excellent ingredients. The Araki and Engawa are both very different to Kurobuta, but the exactitude each brings to traditional Japanese food reminds us why this is one of the world’s great cuisines. And with Jinjuu, chef Judy Joo finally has a forum meriting her attention-grabbing talents, as well as providing a populist showcase for the thrilling cooking of Korea.
But we had to ask ourselves where we would most like to pull up a chair and eat – and without a doubt that is Kurobuta. ‘It’s amazing to win this award,’ a thrilled Hallsworth told us. ‘We never expected to receive any accolades. We didn’t start with a lot of money, we just knew that if we worked hard we could make some tasty food and make people happy.’
This is Square Meal’s 31st award for Best New Restaurant and the 16th year that BMW has been its sponsor. Congratulations to Kurobuta for a highly deserved win that sees it joining the likes of Zuma, Scott’s and Dinner by Heston in our Hall of Fame. Hallsworth is pictured above with BMW's Byron Dudding (photo: Laurie Fletcher).
This article was published on 7 April 2015