Ukai, a certified game-changer in the world of London sushi, has been quietly plying its trade in Notting Hill since 2016 – and we’re a little embarrassed that its taken us this long to check it out. The restaurant is multi-functional: it serves both as a lively bar with live music and a traditional restaurant. Crucially, the restaurant is far enough away from the bar that you are able to enjoy your meal without your conversation being overpowered by the tunes.
The food is a mixture of robata, a Japanese barbecue over charcoal, and traditional handmade sushi, made by a head chef who previously plied his trade in Nobu. With this in mind, expectations were high, and they were delightfully exceeded.
We tried a range of dishes – predominantly sashimi with a fusion twist – including a mindblowing white tuna maki that was dotted with truffle and Australian yellowtail ceviche in a citrus sauce. But the standout was a tuna tartare that came with a cherry-infused dressing – it was, much to my surprise, perfect level of sour and just a hint of sweetness – and not nearly as strange as I had feared.