When it comes to Afternoon Tea, the options in London are simply overwhelming. Many places offer various different menus and styles but none are quite as unique as Ginza Onodera. A Japanese style of Afternoon Tea is available here and we would be heading along to try it.
Situated down Bury Street in swish Piccadilly, Ginza Odonera is quite simply a stunning venue. Ginza Onodera is part of the Onodera group founded in Ginza, Tokyo. With branches in New York, Paris, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Hawaii and now London. Incredible given that the group began with a single 9 seater restaurant in Tokyo.
Walking into the restaurant lets you know straight away that you are in a classy London venue. The restaurant itself is situated downstairs below ground level. Complete with Teppanyaki stations and private dining for those experiencing sushi made before their very eyes, this was like stepping off a London street and into Japan.
The dining room is equally beautiful. Mirrors along the wall and lights overhead really bring to life the spacious aspect of the room. Chairs and tables are spread a good distance apart with the hum of relaxing music for company. An ideal place for a relaxing meal.
We then met Shunpei, the restaurant manager. A kind man who explained both the menu and the ideas behind the concept of taking the Afternoon Concept a little further east. It makes complete sense to provide specialties found in Japan, both savoury and sweet and to serve them alongside a formidable selection of teas.
The menus begin from £29 for a choice of one tea plus food. Prices increase to £72 for bottomless Champagne with the food inclusive. A Japanese tea ceremony option allows you to try a variety of Japanese teas along with the food selection. A cocktail option is also available.
We began our experience with a glass of Drappier Champagne. The bottle even proudly displays the logo for Ginza Onodera exclusively for the restaurant, a lovely gesture by the people at Drappier. The Champagne was of very high quality with a refreshing taste and not as gassy as many vintages can be.
The Japanese are famed for their precision. When it comes to presentation, this left us spellbound. Each small dish was displayed beautifully on a circular wooden stand. The dishes included Beef Teriyaki, Chicken Karaage, Spider Crab Rolls, Wagyu Sliders, Salmon Tataki, Crab Croquettes, Kinako Blancmange and Chocolate Gateau.
Starting with the hot items, we began with the rather tempting Wagyu Slider. Widely regarded as some of the best beef in the world, Wagyu is highly prized by the Japanese. Upon tasting the rich, flavoursome and almost buttery meat – I can now see why it is so revered. Complete with cheese and a slice of tomato this was outstanding.
Crunchy on the outside and soft in the centre with a fresh flavour of the sea, the Crab Croquette was by no means overshadowed by the Wagyu. Our Afternoon Tea experience had got off to the best possible start.
The crispy Chicken Karaage was up next. Fried chicken in any form regularly hits the spot with us, however, there is such a lightness to Japanese fried chicken. A squeeze of lemon juice is all that is needed to produce a taste sensation.
Shunpei would inform us later that because refrigeration was not an option years ago in places such as Tokyo, other methods were in fact used to preserve fish. Many households would either cure, sear or eat raw seafood straight away. The Salmon Tataki was a prime example of this.
A lightly seared piece of salmon, barely cooked, garnished with a salad dressed with plum and cucumber. So delicate were the flavours within the salad that you could really taste the freshness of the fish. This began to unlock a whole new level of Japanese food for us.
The Beef Teriyaki also had that rich flavour from good quality meat, quite possibly Wagyu again. Garnished with Teriyaki sauce and a cherry tomato, the skewer had a ton of flavour for something so small in stature.
Time for a tea break. Our first two teas to try were Kabusecha and Sencha. The Kabusecha consisted of leaves that are covered for 10 days to produce a sweeter tea. While the Sencha aimed for more of a balanced cup of tea.
Having a sweet tooth naturally, the Kabusecha was my instant favourite. Both cups contained a really clean flavour and refreshing hit to the palate. Very good options in the Japanese Tea Ceremony style of Afternoon Tea.
Like many, we would associate Sushi with raw fish wrapped up inside both rice and seaweed. The Sushi at Ginza Onodera is not only raw fish. The fish, in this case, was Spider Crab. Deep-fried and rolled with a spicy sauce, rice and seaweed to encase it all in.
Every single flavour stands out in this roll. The sweet crab, the spicy sauce and the precise cooking of the rice just make this one of the best rolls ever. The whole Sushi experience at Ginza Onodera really began to look tempting off the back of tasting the Spider Roll. Skill on a very high level.
Just the sweets remained as our stand began to look rather empty. The first of the dessert dishes was a take on panna cotta – a Kinako Blancmange. The actual Blancmange is made from soybean flour which takes on a flavour similar to pistachio. The glaze on the top is a dark sugar caramel with a fresh blueberry and raspberry garnish.
The texture is comparable to Creme Caramel. The flavour, as described, more like pistachio. Either way, this is a delicious dessert and satisfying to any sweet tooth. Equally so, the Chocolate Gateau had a soft, flourless texture with a rich flavour. Perfect with a crisp sesame tuile and a great way to round off the meal.
A couple more pots of tea accompanied our digestion. Two Matcha Green Tea types, in this case Hojicha and Genmaicha. The Genmaicha was described as having a buttery taste and it really does! A lovely tea. Both cups possessed a fascinating scent and it was hard to choose between them as to which we favoured more.
After a tour of the restaurant’s private dining areas, including Teppan-yaki stations and Sushi bars, we thanked the service and Shunpei and said our goodbyes. We really didn’t think that Japanese food could get any better than Kushi-Ya but we have found a firm favourite here in Piccadilly.
At Ginza Onodera, you can expect a classy meal to remember. Courteous and kind service along with food to take you thousands of miles east. The concept of the Afternoon Tea is a real stroke of genius. Absolutely the most unique way to spend an afternoon in London.
Nearest Tube: Green Park