It’s a risky business putting odd couples together. For every cat and dog, or Buckfast and prosecco, there’s the not so great pairings, like the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus and ants, or people who put butter and marmite on their toast. But Sumosan Twiga believe in odd pairings, bringing Italian and Japanese cuisine together on one menu without fusing the two. I was intrigued. Moreso with the promise of Italian band Alessandro Ristori & The Portofinos performing as we ate, so it was time to put my fancy hat on and get to West London.
Venue, Atmosphere, and Experience
The restaurant brings together the worlds of Italy’s Flavio Briatore of Twiga in Monaco fame and Janina Wolkow of Japanese joint Sumosan, creating not just a multi-layered menu, but venue too. We began the night with a cocktail in the top floor bar. Think a slick black design, with framed monochrome art on the walls and the rectangular stylings associated with Japanese design. We sat for a drink on the velvet stools surrounding the polished bar, as their smoother-than-smooth tenders mixed us up something tasty.
It was in the restaurant on the first floor where we saw Ristori perform. We sat in the centre tables, giving it more of a jazz bar feel and putting the action in your face. That’s a good thing: Ristori is a madman. The guy is sponsored by Gucci, so he and his friends looked fresh (if not a little like he fell through a That 70s Show fever dream) and the guests were living for it. He’d weave through the tables, thrusting his hips in a way that'd make your Nan blush, and people were on their feet, dancing away through mouthfuls of sashimi. Combining this kind of energy with a dinner could be a recipe for disaster, but when the atmosphere is as electric as this... Well, you’re in for a treat.
Food and Drink
So when a snake-hipped band and dinner seemed to be a perfect combination, now it was time to see if side-by-side Japanese and Italian cuisine could work just as well. Looking at the menu, we leaned heavier on the Japanese side, as Italian food is the homeland of the knockout carb sleep and Japanese has become the patron saint of light lunches.
We started the night with the J’Secret Mixed (£16.50), a generous mix of wonderfully fresh sashimi. Normally in these mixes, I find the salmon underwhelming, but here it was gorgeous, and I fought my friend for the final bite, trading over the last of the delicious amaebi prawns for it. Sashimi is my favourite in general, though, so if I wanted to be really impressed then I’d need something a bit different. Something a bit special.
Cue the next two dishes. First were the wasabi prawns (£22) with mango & golden passion fruit salsa. I’m not even the biggest fan of wasabi (sacrilege, I know), but I devoured these prawns whole, with the perfectly made sauce adding the kind of kick I could feel in my nose, while still delighting my taste buds along the way. Seriously, it’s hard to find any fault here. Then there’s the lobster salad. The lobster and green lollobiondo salad (£32), arriving like a green shower pouf hiding the seafood underneath it. Oh sweet Neptune, this salad was delectable. The dressing was so good that we started dipping other food into it. I've genuinely never wanted to have more salad in my entire life, and with the shellfish included, I felt like I'd just received a joint birthday present from the Earth and a lobster king.
As the music played and the lovely waiters and waitresses kept bringing more dishes out, I realised I wasn’t going to be disappointed. The Billionaire Roll (£29), made from Wagyu beef, mushrooms, asparagus, rice and black truffle, turned into one of the best pieces of rolled sushi I’ve eaten: Wagyu is a precious meat and only made stronger with the addition of black truffle. We ended with the lamb ragu: a perfectly executed dish that was perhaps not as spectacular as the Japanese dishes, yet seemed a fitting way to end the night, calming those raging appetites with the previously mentioned carb coma. The music was playing, I was full, and that meal was outstanding.
Japanese and Italian food side-by-side; dinner and raucous music side-by-side; they might seem like odd couples, but putting them together was inspirational. The food was out of this world while the atmosphere truly elevates the night into something special. Sumosan Twiga and I are an odd couple that need to be together.