Desperate times call for innovation. Into the fray comes Taka, a newish venue in Mayfair’s Shepherd Market, just reopened after a make-over. It’s hard to know how much semblance there is between this restaurant and the Kyoto original, but the backers of the brand have plans and a second London outlet is already slated for Marylebone. Our host for the evening couldn’t answer the Kyoto versus Mayfair comparison question but was at distinct pains to point out that Taka did not constitute just another high-end Japanese restaurant. Rather, the concept here is to take classic Japanese cooking principles and marry them with locally sourced British ingredients. A more cynical interpretation might be that it’s trying to appeal to as broad a target market as possible. The décor feels distinctly Japanese (light wood, minimalist and intimate – read cramped) but the vibe is more London (slightly-too-loud electronic music and an awful lot of showmanship). If you’re after your salmon being fired with a blowtorch, your salad bedecked with foam or your sushi dipping sauce served from the vertebra of tuna fish, then you’ve come to the right venue. All this said, if you actually focus on what you’re eating, then it’s pretty damned good. There are elements of over-engineering (I was not convinced that my salmon was enhanced either by the blowtorch or the addition of heirloom tomato; and it was unclear to me whether or not the salad benefited from three days of preparation, as we were informed), but Taka delivered where it mattered. The sushi was superlative, the monkfish magnificent and the wagyu wonderful. Here, Taka struck the right balance in terms of exquisite ingredients, preparation and presentation. The wagyu was the stand-out dish of the evening, albeit priced at a premium to the others on the menu. For the more enterprising, there is a range of sake options available (we rated the pear-flavoured digestif) complemented by wines, beers and spirits. The white Burgundy (from Corton-Charlemagne) was a perfect foil to the food. The venue seemed pleasingly busy for only its second week of business, which augers well. Taka certainly has potential.