Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Price: £20-100 per person
Closest Tube station: Piccadilly Circus
2 Ham Yard, London, W1D 7DT
What is wagyu? When thinking of this fabled beef, the mind probably conjures up images of beer-swilling cows being massaged by geishas and generally enjoying a languorous existence. There is likely a grain of truth to the stories of how wagyu cows are reared, but the reality is that wagyu’s fatty marbling (shimofuri) is mostly due to the genetics of particular breeds of Japanese cattle. It is this shimofuri that results in the meat possessing its sweet fragrance and melt-in-the-mouth texture.
The most well-known of wagyu varieties is undoubtedly Kobe beef, which is the beef of steers or virgin cows from the Tajima strain and raised in Hyogo Prefecture according to strict rules. Fewer than 4,000 head of cattle meet the stringent criteria for Kobe labelling annually. The lifting of the EU ban on imports of Japanese beef last year is why it was only recently that authentic Kobe beef has been available in London with a handful of restaurants serving it, including Sushisamba and M Grill. Of these, Engawa is the only one importing the entire cow so that it can offer customers a selection of cuts such as sirloin or fillet.
Here are some snapshots from a visit to Engawa soon after its opening:
The teppanyaki kaiseki menu cost £70 and is the most expensive lunch option. There is, however, a pretty bargain-basement Kobe bento box for £30. There is no doubt that to experience to the full what Engawa has to offer can be considered pricey but not that much so when you compare with restaurants of a similar calibre. For my money, I would say that Engawa is the best value destination for trying the legendary Kobe beef and is a great addition to the flourishing Japanese food scene in London.
This post is contributed by KC and edited by LonKonger.