Amazing, tiny sushi joints are the bees’ knees – and Mayfair just took receipt of a cracker: meet Cubé
It is worth asking the question why so many sushi joints are able to survive as tiny little venues? The answer lies somewhere in the wider margins on the food, the way the rare expertise of the chefs translates into a steady flow of customers happy with the price point, and the culture of small, well designed dishes served in a small, well designed space.
Araki’s Michelin success has shone a light on these places, and there are quite a few in London, but with great serendipity Cubé has opened in Mayfair, which ticks all the small, perfectly-formed boxes: tiny, covered in wood, expert chef, Mayfair prices (but not silly).
The food is making waves as it has been sold as a differentiated product: classic sushi, but with a tapas approach, including variations such as a ‘taco’ which turns out to be ox tongue in a lettuce leaf served with chilli sauce – Korea meets Japan meets Mexico.
The chef, Osamu Mizuno, is a veteran of Nobu and Sake no Hana, and the seats positioned around the bar are well appointed to observe his expert preparation. Pickled fish and fried chicken whet the appetite, but the salmon, mackerel and tuna sushi are the stars of the show.
The omakase menu is a showcase of the chef’s prowess with a range of sushi and dashi soup and noodles that will settle any hunger. There is a bijou Kakurega bar downstairs that seats 12 – seriously exclusive – that serves a range of classics in the Japanese style (Smokey Negroni, Okinawa Old Fashioned) as well as rare sakes, premium Japanese whiskies, and world famous wines with promised low mark-ups. (Why you’d bother in Mayfair to keep the mark-ups low is not obvious, what sort of hedge funder wants to wear the embarrassment of good value wine?)
Maybe the trick of the tiny, amazing sushi joint is just doing everything brilliantly and finding the balance sheet to make it work (call me Einstein!). With superb drinks, a very exclusive feel (the restaurant seats 18), food from another planet, who wouldn’t want to sample to delights of Cubé and the likes, and on a regular basis, if finances allow – and in Mayfair, finances allow.