Kiwi chef Jeff Tyler used to be in charge of the Asian side of flashy mega restaurant Novikov, so it’s surprising that his first solo project is a quirky “hole in the wall” corner spot in olde-worlde Shepherd Market, with space for only 15 diners (tables are bookable). “It’s not fancy at all”, notes a fan, “but it’s good fun”.
What isn’t surprising is the sheer quality of Tyler’s modern Japanese food. Titu is billed as a gyoza specialist, and its “light and creative” dumplings are served linked like conjoined twins attached by a filigree of lacy batter – although we preferred the warmly spiced chicken and foie gras version to a Wagyu and black pepper riff that seemed like an ostentatious intrusion from Novikov.
However, there’s much more to Titu’s small-plates menu than gyoza: expect anything from meltingly soft tuna blobbed with a subtle jalapeño mayo to deep-fried chicken popcorn (like eating a gourmet McNugget) or a citrusy salad of chunky soft-shell crab. Complimentary snacks of lotus root crisps with corn yuzu dipping sauce go down a treat, while desserts could include green tea brûlée and a ‘mochi ball’ selection.
Prices, while not exactly cheap, are something of a bargain for Mayfair given the quality of the ingredients and cooking. And while Titu’s tiny dimensions mean that confidential discussions are out of the question, the charming staff somehow find space to mix plenty of cocktails including Pisco Sours and Espresso Martinis. We’ll definitely be back – perhaps after a matinee at the nearby Curzon Mayfair.