Let’s be honest – we’re all suckers for those restaurants. You know, the ones you see plastered all over the ‘Gram, showcasing the quirkiest of decor or interiors dripping in glamorous grandeur that ends them up on your ‘must-visit’ list. But, more often than not, they’re all style and no substance, leaving us with a little something to be desired. Although that’s certainly not the case with this Japanese fusion eatery, Rika Moon in Notting Hill.
Just a short walk from Notting Hill Gate tube station, down a pretty road lined with luxury pads, you’ll find the charming Rika Moon. If you've never had a hit of dopamine from just looking at a restaurant before, you will here. And the pictures don't even do it justice; with modern Art Deco stylings, it boasted a beaut blue marble bar, which made the row of burnt orange stools around it pop, and a stunning bubble chandelier that illuminated the atmospheric mural behind it. But despite the elegant, upmarket look, it had the feel of a local Italian trattoria. The vibe was warm and friendly, plus the owner, Mahsa Salehnazhad, was there (with her adorable pup Rika, no less). It honestly felt like an honest community hangout, but, well, bougie.
My pal and I needed a quick catch-up before we dived into the menu, so we kicked off the evening with a couple of Shisoritas (£14). A fun spin on the classic margarita, it mixed Jose Cuervo Especial, mezcal verde, lime and shiso. Served in an elegant martini glass with purple shiso leaf around the rim, it was the perfect balance of sweet and sour, offering a subtle appley aroma.
After getting the chit-chat out of the way, we set our eyes on the list of treats. We opted for the omakase tasting menu, and the first to arrive was the seaweed salad (£10) drizzled in black goma dressing. Next up? The Hokkaido scallop and asparagus kushiyaki (£12). There’s nothing worse than soggy asparagus, so thankfully the green stems had a much-welcomed crunch, which added a satisfying textural edge to the little gemstones of fish. The scallops themselves were sweet and succulent, drizzled in umami soy garlic butter.
Then, as we sometimes do, I had to pop to the ladies. When I asked where it was, the server directed me downstairs and said, ominously, "Don't forget to press the big red button." Can you guess what it was? That's right, a disco loo. Next to the, uh, comode is a big ol' button. Press it, and you're treated to a mini light show as party tunes thump from the speakers (in my case, it was Please Don't Stop The Music by Rihanna, what a classic).
Once I returned, we received the stunning sashimi platter (£30). Generous thick slabs of salmon and tuna arrived on a bed of ice, garnished with colourful flowers. There are few things in this world I love as much as raw fish, so you can bet I've had my fair share of sashimi, but this was among some of the best I've had. After we quickly devoured that, the Kyoto miso black cod (£37.50) landed on our table, accompanied by mountain caviar, Japanese pickles and yuzu nori. Simple but perfectly executed, everything on the plate just made sense, complementing each other nicely.
To help wash it all down, we ordered another round of cocktails. My friend went for the Peach Highball (£15), made up of Toki whisky, Akashi Tai sake, Umeboshi vinegar and peach soda. It was very sweet, but well-balanced, with a slight yet delightful zing. I chose the sesame old fashioned (£15), which, to be honest, just tasted like a very well-made old fashioned, lacking the sesame flavour I was excited for. Then came the mouthwatering chirashi rolls (£16), beautifully presented in a little line, topped with pickled radish, cucumber and spicy mayonnaise. Our final main was the vegetable clay pot Gohan rice (£14). There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this dish, other than being a little bland, but I definitely can't say it was my favourite out of the lot.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Yes, the interiors were dazzling, but Rika Moon was much more than just a pretty face. Not only was the food absolutely delish and presented with style, but the cocktails were a highlight in themselves. Although my favourite part? The whole feel of the place - it was so friendly and inviting, without a smidge of pretentiousness. I only wish I lived closer so that I could visit it more regularly.
💰 The damage: Around £180 for two, plus service charge.
📍 The location: 120 Kensington Park Road, W11 2PW.
👌 Perfect for: Dinner dates with friends or your beau.
⭐ Need to know: Make sure to press the big red button...
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