Back in the day Monopoly was considered an extreme sport in the Bent household; I’m not even being dramatic when I say ‘only the strong survived’. I constantly bickered with one cousin in particular over who got to buy (and build) on Mayfair - it was a messy affair and truth be told, we still haven’t properly patched things up. Fifteen years on, my dreams of building a house in Mayfair are still be looking bleak, but my next roll of the dice ended up bringing to this SW postcode once again - this time to sample Ginza Ondera’s new bar menu.
The Venue and Atmosphere
Ginza Onodera opened in March of this year and I was impressed to find out that the brand has established itself in some of the world’s most famed cities, like Paris and New York. Formerly the home of another Japanese restaurant, £2.5 million was pumped into giving the space a massive make-over, making London their largest restaurant to date. Downstairs is where you’ll find the main restaurant alongside separate rooms for meetings and intimate sushi masterclasses, but I and my company were here to review the new bar menu, which meant we spent our evening upstairs.
Eerily quiet, we arrived at Ginza Onodera bang on 7.30pm midweek to find the place completely deserted. A little bit off-putting as the area is intimidatingly small with a limited number of seats poised at the bar, but throughout our meal the staff knew when to leave us to our own devices and when to jump in with small talk and cocktail recommendations. Intimacy aside, the space itself screamed sophistication. The bar’s black marble countertop was so immaculately polished that I’d happily ditch my compact mirror to apply my make-up it in its shiny surface; decadent lighting features had subtle Japanese stylings and a fridge gleaming with premium bottles of Champagne were ready and waiting to lose their corks.
The Food and Drinks
Something that the team only introduced a week or so before we arrived, we were the first people to review Ginza Onodera’s new bar menu. Starring seven different dishes, we were informed that all were chosen to accompany the drinks served at the bar. We kicked off our evening with the salmon tataki with umemizore sauce £16 which was a palate-pleasing plate of lightly seared salmon with a cucumber plum sauce. Next up was the seaweed salad with creamy dressing £13. Something I would never usually opt for, three heaps of red tosaka, ogo nori and wakame seaweed came presented on a soft bed of tofu. Surprisingly filling and flavoursome, we then moved onto the black kanpachi carpaccio £15. Melt in the mouth slices of cobia were neatly presented, each disc overlapping the other, accompanied by a gentle sprinkling of fresh pomegranate seeds and a generous dispersion of paper-thin slices of truffle. Last, but definitely not least, were the spider rolls £11. Fat cylinders packed with deep fried softshell crab, pickled baby carrot and wasabi mayonnaise came presented in a neat, single file with a pool of dark soya sauce on the side. Fantastically fresh and fitting with the drinks on offer, Ginzo Ondera’s new bar menu is there to satisfy that ‘I’m not quite fit for a full meal’ kind of hunger.
Proclaiming my love for whisky as if it were an actual living and breathing person, our bartender came straight out with Flawless Manhattan £17 as a recommendation. Billed as ‘a must try cocktail if you are a Manhattan lover’, it was a potent yet silky mix of Nikka From The Barrel, Mancino Rosso, Contratto Aperitif, Amargo Chuncho. My second and final drink of the night was something a little bit different: the Can Can £18. The side note of this cocktail read ‘if Japan and France would meet up for a cocktail, they must have this’. Marrying Tamagawa sake, Chateu de Breuil V.S.O.P., figs and salted caramel, the end result was a clean, cutting-edge cocktail. My companion isn’t a fan of whisky (which we conveniently found out when we were on the way to the Dalwhinnie whisky distillery in Scotland), so she opted for the Kinto-un £18, which is a tasteful twist on the Clover Club, and the Peach Punch £17- a long, fruity number containing East London Vodka, Crème de peche, blood orange puree, lemonade and lime.
My cousin Christopher still refuses to play Monopoly with me and I have begrudgingly come to the conclusion that I will never be able to afford a house in Mayfair, but do you know what? I’m completely fine with that. Why? Because I can visit Mayfair any god damned time I like, and with such stellar places to visit - like Ginza Onodera - life’s not looking so bad.