Brummell recommends: Junsei

This new yakitori restaurant in Marylebone offers pure pleasure in its charcoal-grilled skewers and Japanese delicacies

Food and Drink 17 Sep 2021

Junsei, a new yakitori restaurant in Marylebone, image by Laurie Fletcher
Junsei specialises in skewers cooked over white charcoal, image by Justin De Souza
Chicken Donburi, image by Laurie Fletcher

The background

Junsei is a new yakitori restaurant in Marylebone, focusing on skewers cooked over charcoal. Junsei is the first restaurant from chef Aman Lakhiani, who previously worked at Barcelona’s Michelin-starred Dos Palillos. The word Junsei means pure and this is a reference to the method of cooking over Binchōtan, a white charcoal using Japanese oak, that is considered to be particularly refined and uncontaminated.

The space

Natural wood, natural walls and muted blue-grey leather chairs are paired with gold flourishes for a space that is intimate and elegant. The best seats in the house are the bar chairs overlooking the kitchen, a particularly good spot to grab when choosing the omakase menu in which the dishes are chosen by the chef.

Grilled hotate, image by Justin De Souza, and Junsei interior, image by Laurie Fletcher

The menu

There are more than 20 delicious skewers available on the menu and this forms the core of Junsei’s offering. The restaurant specialises particularly in chicken skewers including shiso breast, an irresistible chicken meatball, crispy skin, gizzards, heart, liver and wing – every part of the chicken is taken and made delicious on charcoal. There is plenty of variety besides chicken, however, including padron peppers, okra with bonito flakes, shitake, garlic, onion and tofu among others. Each comes grilled and seasoned to perfection.

Outside of skewers, a selection of bigger plates includes miso mussels, wagyu and grilled lettuce as well as rice donabe (clay pot) dishes such as sea bream, chicken and mushroom and wagyu. For dessert, don’t miss the kuzumochi, a soft and moreish mochi cake that comes with seasonal fruit, soy cream and jaggery. Arguably the best and certainly the most fun way to experience the menu is to opt for the omakase menu and leave it up to the restaurant to curate a selection of seasonal dishes.

To drink, Junsei has an excellent selection of sake, including by the glass and carafe. The restaurant’s cocktails are also delicious and well thought-out, including original takes on classics such as the satsuma screw made from tea-infused vodka, Aperol, Moromi miso syrup and orange juice.

The bill

For the omakase menu for two people at £50 per head, plus a carafe of sake and two cocktails, around £150.

The verdict

Good yakitori and omakase promise a fun, diverting and interesting meal – especially when under the expert care of chef Aman Lakhiani and his team. Junsei is different and delicious and offers something quite original. It’s an exciting addition to London’s dining scene.