City AM – Half a dozen chefs (all Japanese) work in contemplative silence, constructing towers from nigiri, radish, beef, roe and kumquat, agonising over the placement of every sliver of chive
History and Background:
Opened a mere 4 weeks ago (March 2015), Engawa has already made rounds in the restaurant industry over its unique washoku style dining. Ham Yard took me by surprise, a small hidden gem neatly tucked away from the bustling streets of Shaftesbury Avenue. A location perfect for Engawa to reflect the tranquility of upscale Japanese dining, but also very conveniently, centrally located. The restaurant glistens with surreal serenity as you enter the front door in slight awe.
A bit about Kobe Beef:
Kobe beef traditionally has a strict import ban, being one of the most expensive and sought after beef you can find, and is farmed under very stern conditions. From being fed particular foods to the way it is raised, only 300 such cattle are exported every year, and is strictly documented online. Kobe beef ban was lifted in May last year, allowing Engawa to become the first and only restaurant to be able to serve this prime produce. (Edit: a handful of others now sell Kobe beef on the menu)
Other Engawa specialties include Wagyu beef, teppanyaki and sushi, as well as wagashi – Japanese style sweets.
The menu differs from lunch to evening, and tasting menus are only available in the evening, specific opening times so please check their website here.
It’s been a while since I was fully satisfied with a meal from start to finish, I was so impressed that, I already had decided we will be back before we had even finished our meal! Each compartmentalised dish was made on point, and with precision, thanks to the eagle eyed executive chef Akira Shimizu watching over his peers. Many thanks to Daniel Ashworth, Engawa’s General Manager, (former manager at Nobu) for explaining these individual dishes to me in detail.
Melt in your mouth Kobe beef
There is another cup (photo not taken) of egg plant and daikon, in bento box photo above it’s the compartment next to the soy sauce.
Service: There was an overwhelming staff to customer ratio upon arrival this was expected given the size of the restaurant. Attentive, and observant to the point I didn’t even realise that my glass of water was being filled up. 12.5% service charge.