Kuro Eatery restaurant review: everything here just feels right

Perhaps the best of its kind in London’s west area, where half of the mystical pleasure derives from the high-decibel rhythms

You’ve likely spent a good part of your life searching for that platonic ideal of a restaurant, the one that can consume you, give off a warm, heady, cocooning feel from the instant you step through the door to the moment you sink your third Manhattan of the evening, tap your credit card, and dive into the Uber home. There’s a certain, all-pleasure rhythm that runs through the Valhallan dining-room of our dreams – and at Kuro Eatery, perhaps the exemplar of the restaurant ideal, the warm, heady, cocooning, all-pleasure-rhythm thing is very real.

Is Notting Hill the place to dine-out at the moment? If recent food press is anything to go off, then it could well be. The neighbourhood has been complimented by Times critic Giles Coren, who, last Christmas, reviewed a trio of eateries in the area (Caia, which blends open-fire cooking and great wines with music; the urban-rustic joys of The Pelican; and Kuro Eatery). Jimi Famurewa pointed out that a trip to the latter “is to be steadily ambushed by wave after wave of unexpected brilliance.” And the lifestyle-section listicles – the types that send eating enthusiasts eight stops down the Metropolitan line on a Tuesday night – seem to be in awe with the community of late.

The approach to Kuro Eatery will consist of you either being hit by the heavy thrum of Fords and Toyotas on Notting Hill Gate, or being absorbed into the side streets by the twee pastel houses around the area east of Holland Park. When you get there, you’ll see a complete-white facade, and, in the corner of your eye, you may catch the subterranean kitchen in which the hands of a line cook will be packing in diced bits of bream into a silver stacking ring. You’ll knock on the triple-window door and wait for the front of house to whisk you lovingly inside, like a zia to a nephew she’s not seen for two long summers. You’ll give your name, skim past the tightly packed table arrangement of men whose shirt collars poke out of their jumpers and women in flowing Jigsaw dresses. You’ll take your seat and study the clean, spartan lines of the blondewood fit-out with the intense enthusiasm of an architecture grad. You’ll order a matcha tonic – and all will be well.

Pork, chilli pork fat, aged soy sauce

Artful dishes – often done in small scales – in London continue without cease and generally make for a good time, a pleasurable experience that will usually consist of a carafe or two of low-intervention drops, cuts of animal that are generally from a small, well-bred stock and cooked in a way that accentuates the quality of the meat, and an interior that seems to have been lifted from a Monocle spread. And whether you lean towards the wonderful pokerchip-sized tortelli at Brawn, the mille-feuille of eels and potato at Sessions Arts Club, or the deep-wine list of P. Franco, everyone has their favourite.

Kuro Eatery is perhaps the best of its kind in London’s west area, a full room where half of the mystical pleasure that imbues the first 30 minutes seems to derive from the high-decibel rhythms: W8’s extravagant gossip; the fast-flow of alcohol being poured; clear yearnings for the house speciality of flatbread saturated with a clot of sleek, smooth goat’s cheese and large swathes of fermented hot honey; and great sighs of pure bliss.

The chef Andrianos Poulis, who was a sous to chef Tom Brown at the fish-heavy Hackney Wick restaurant Cornerstone, oversees the hobs, and it is in his bream where he shows his hand – a stout, tightly packed cylinder of fish with brunoise cuts of green apple and tiny bits of fermented chilli, stacked with the sharp precision of an Albers painting and dressed out with the finesse one might often associate with ambitious restaurants, with a beautiful, cool whoosh of sea and heat that speaks of the everyday flavours of Peru. You’ll find that the matcha tonic, whose savoury grassiness pings to life with effervescence, is very appropriate at this point.

Spaghettoni, clams, bottarga

If you arrive hungry, you’ll likely turn to the four-top next to you and watch as their server surgically dissects a plate of brill with the regard of an archaeologist brushing around a fossil, and you might regret overlooking it were it not for the spaghettoni that hits your table almost immediately as the previous plate departs, like Heathrow’s runway during the summer rush.

The jumble of noodles, whose ribbed appearance may have you thinking of the Michelin Man, is a miraculous thing, boiled to a pleasant, giving texture that collapses under your teeth with the slightest of chews, neither overcooked to oblivion nor done to the Italian preference of ‘al dente’, and its slick of bottarga and clams fuse together to reach that ideal point where you don’t know where the pasta ends and the sauce begins, a tie-in as harmonious as anything else in nature.

And though the spirit at global-inspired, mini-dishes restaurants often tilts towards the lighter side of the kitchen – small arrangements that impart subtle flavours – Kuro Eatery also has its more aggressive weaponry: a loin cut of pork is sliced widthways and cooked to a hue just below pink, with the juiced fleshiness of a heritage roast and soaked with a little glug of pork fat streaked with beads of aged soy sauce and jabbed-up with hints of chilli that has the faint, fiery whoosh of Lao Gan Ma, but is an entirely different heat of its own.

Is the tarte tatin – a notebook-sized pastry with edges marked by fire; a debossed centre of mandolined apple; and a quenelle of goat’s cheese that prevents the dish from reaching either the mouth-obliterating tang of an American-diner pie and the bitter-melancholy notes of an amateur bake – the finest dessert to have appeared in London in recent months? It is certainly an essay in great kitchen principles – fine ingredients, balance, and pleasure – and you’ll likely be thinking about it in that Uber home. Kuro Eatery is just a great place to be.

  • Kuro Eatery, 5 Hillgate Street, London W8 7SP, kuro-london.com
  • Starters from £5; mains from £18; desserts from £12

Want more food recommendations? Read our review of Cycene, the east London restaurant that cuts against the moment…

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