Being somewhat dubious of restaurants set in hotels, and also those that are positioned in too tourist-friendly locations, new Japanese restaurant Watatsumi set in the Club Quarters Hotel on Northumberland Avenue right at Trafalgar Square rang alarm bells.
Stepping inside, this ringing is replaced with the gentle tinkle of clinking china fish from their trendy lamp, and the bustle of the Nelson-bound camera-wielding is surpassed by an utterly Japanese sense of calm. Large marble pillars and floor give a church-esque feeling of grandeur that marries well with the incredibly attentive service, but does require some filling out in order to lose the echo and become more atmospheric.
There’s certainly no need for the food to be padded out. This is one Japanese restaurant that you’re unlikely to leave hungry. Slovakia born, Nobu trained chef Peter Makhous serves up a hearty selection of traditional Japanese dishes with just the slightest of contemporary twists.
Spice coated edemame and addictive sichimi togarashi dusted fish tempura are recommended ‘light bites’ to start the meal before working up to a feast that should include melt-in-the-mouth sea bass with shiso butter and saffron, a dish of udon noodles and the obligatory sushi and sashimi selections. Plus at least one of the many sakes on offer, of course.
For a lighter (on stomach and wallet) option, head in for a lunchtime bento box, which includes sushi, tempura, rice and miso soup for less than £15 – not at all bad considering the amount of fish that’s included. The bar’s worth a visit, too. An intriguing cocktail list is international rather than Japanese, and includes such drinks as Yamazumi – a blend of gin, white wine and elderflower liqueur, which is detailed on the menu as: “when you wake up at midday and need a little pick me up”. Do we ever?