There are only three things that work for me on a hangover, pasta smothered in salt, Buffy and funnily enough, sushi. Host to at least one of those, Murakami was looking to be the light at the end of my boozy week tunnel, and saviours they were.
While Murakami may have been torn down the middle to make way for Gyoza Bar, this intimate London restaurant clearly wasted no time in keeping their interiors relative, and their informal, smaller spaces still snug and stylised. A front to back space with tables dotted down the side of the kitchen, the main features of Murakami sit between lodged wooden plaques, a living moss wall and minimalistic dining furniture. While the moss and nod to green notes helped the venue feel fresh with a vibrant dose, the low canopy lighting, black steel inclinations and slick furniture kept the restaurant passionate and polished.
The Food & Drink
The menu at Murakami? Surprisingly accessible for a sushi restaurant, and helpfully descriptive throughout, seeing as sushi can sometimes be reserved for those that actually know what they're talking about. Tailored to fish dishes and vegetarian bites in the majority, it was clear that sushi and side dishes were going to be the best way to cover everything that Murakami had to boast. Brought out when the dishes are ready, Murakami doesn't really lend itself to a starter, mains and dessert situation, so we took to it like Eastern Tapas instead. Bulging between us, our order consisted of a crispy tofu salad with a wasabi gomae dressing (£5.50), vegetable tempura with ginger daikon oroshi, popcorn tempura with a spicy yuzu mayo (£8.50), a mixed vegetable roll sushi (£5.50), the softshell crab roll wrapped in mooli (£14 for 6 pieces), and a side of edamame.
Making a definite dinner mark, not only was the yuzu mayo a punchy and delightful sauce against the fluffy shrimp bites, the tofu salad and its main components were fresh with a tanged, vinegar style bite. Nailing their sushi, not only was the mooli a new but fresh and non-overbearing accompaniment, the spicy mayo and avocado complimented the fresh softshell perfectly. Even our humble exytra side of asparagus with spicy miso showed Murakami's ability to impress with even the slightest of flavours.
Murakami pride themselves on their cocktails, as our palates were dealt a punchy dose. Our choices included a light and fruitful 'Lost in Translation' that dived into Mexico with elderflower, spiced rum and Quiquiriqui tequila alongside firm favourite the Japanese Whisky Sour (£8.50) with egg whites, barrel whisky, pineapple syrup for a twist and lemon juice.
Murakami may have been split like a lip, and is missing a few of its extra lunch limbs during service, but the venue is clearly still busy with those that need an end of week Eastern dose. Thursday was a really busy night for the venue in all, with lone diners, catch-ups, and couples with bums on seats alike. The venue staff are a treasure too, keeping our drinks topped up, and doing that all important double take when it came to an extra round of food.
Since growing up, and leaving my pie-loving palate behind (i'll be forever yours £1 Princes Mince Pie) my favoritism has continually lended to sushi and Eastern bites, so it was great to see that hidden amongst the wash of bog standard restaurants in Central was an absolute gem, and one that's easy to find should you head on in. Wholesome, inviting and churning out plates that are creative, artistic and accessible, Murakami is an honest way to dine in the heart of the city, without selling out.