RAI

Japanese, Sushi·
££££
·
Silver Award

SquareMeal Review of RAI

Silver Award

While the buzzing throng surrounding Charlotte Street always makes it feel like the place to be, there’s one unassuming façade that you could quite easily miss. RAI’s signage is simple and its dimly lit windows hide what might be going on inside. So, it’s quite a surprise when upon stepping through the door you’re met with the restaurant’s customary greeting: an incredibly loud unified chant from all the staff, in Japanese.

Spend an evening at RAI and you’ll realise that this restaurant specialises in surprises. Including supplements the tasting menu at RAI can run up to 10 courses, and so the attentive staff are keen to communicate their fluid serving style in which “food just keeps coming.” Again, and again, spectacular dishes are brought out, each one with an impressive story behind it.

The hand-picked Maldon rock oysters are a brilliant example. Carried on an under-sea rock formation, a single oyster is decorated with five-year aged soy sauce and fresh wasabi, grated from its pure, original form in front of you. Fresh-as-fresh and full of flavour, it will get you excited for what’s next.

There are so many dishes which deserve a shout out, especially the mouth-watering fatty tuna sashimi which literally melts on your tongue, and the Scottish salmon tartare which mixes yuzu miso, crispy leek, British pear and 60 month aged organic Parmigiano Reggiano. Because of the natural association we hold to these dominant flavours and their countries of origins, you find yourself tasting Italy, Japan and the English countryside, all in one mouthful. It’s unconventional but divine.

Enhance the experience further with a drink pairing and enjoy crisp white wines with seafood-based plates and potent sake, too. As for the dining area, it is an intimate space, with refined, sleek décor. The overall effect is elegant – reflective of the restaurant’s fine dining status, without feeling showy.

RAI is perfect for an occasion dinner, especially when you’re looking to impress. We can’t imagine anyone being met with this standard of innovative food and being disappointed.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
Cuisines
Japanese, Sushi
Ambience
Fine dining, Glamorous, Unique
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
People
Special occasions

About

Given that RAI is the brain-child of founder Shrabaneswor Rai and Executive Chef Padam Raj Rai, it makes perfect sense that it shares their name.

The multi-course omakase-style Japanese restaurant is the result of 20 years of Chef Padam Raj Rai's work in Japanese restaurants in London. Naturally, the tasting menu reflects this evolution of Japanese cuisine, while featuring unique British products. These meticulously-sourced ingredients, such as Hyogo Prefecture Kobe, draw immediate attention.

The menu changes according to the season, but generally follows a steady equation: first comes a light snack, then some sushi, then seven courses to display Rai's blend of innovation and tradition (accompanied by nori), and finally dessert. Diners can also add additional courses, such as the signature Wagyu or Sushi Omakase. 

Expect to see your sushi marinated in a soy that was aged for 10 years, then topped with cavier. Kizami wasabi from Japan also might make an appearance, alongside Sanpuku nori from Japan’s Ariake Sea. Some highlights from Rai's opening menu showcase their international taste - perhaps you'll see 48-hour marinated Chilean seabass with goast cheese and broccoli puree, orkney scallop sashimi with British parsnip, plum, spicy miso foam and home-made tsukemono, or new-style seared butterfish sashimi with red jalapeno sauce. For dessert, the menu boasts of wagyu chocolate with rosemary, thyme, cranberries, pistachio, yuzu and mixed berries that was created from the leftover wagyu fat. 

This sustainable trend continues on in Rai's decor - the tableware is all made of recycled materials, and the interior reflects the minimalistic and natural design of contemporary restaurants in Japan. Peer through the front glass, and you'll see an expansive room decorated in neutral tones and wood paneling.

And speaking of glass, don't forget to to take your pick from their selection of sake, wine, and spirits. You can buy by the glass or the bottle, but it's likely you'll get a pairing recommendation with your meal. After all, Rai is nothing if not meticulous. 


FAQs

When did Rai open its doors?

The restaurant first opened ts doors in January 2022.

Helpful? 0

Does Rai have vegetarian options?

Because the menu rotates seasonally, it's best if you contact them directly regarding eating limitations.

Helpful? 0

Do you need a reservation for Rai?

Yes. You can reserve a spot for their Omakase menu, which books fast because there are only six seats available.

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Location

3 Windmill Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 2HY

0207 4190 305 0207 4190 305

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu Closed
Fri 12:00-14:00
Sat 12:00-14:00
Sun Closed
Dinner
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 17:30-21:00
Thu 17:30-21:00
Fri 17:30-21:30
Sat 17:30-21:30
Sun Closed

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Call RAI to make a booking on:

0207 4190 305 0207 4190 305

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