Located in the new ‘Ham Yard Village’, a collection of boutiques that’s a part of Firmdale Group’s Ham Yard Hotel development, Engawa offers a unique take on Japanese dining by focusing almost solely on Kobe beef.
Revered by many as the most exclusive beef in the world, where only 3,000 cattle qualify each year as Kobe grade. Those that do are rumoured to be given beer and massages while listening to music.
The reason for Kobe being regarded as the pinnacle is its apparent superior flavour, its tenderness and the marbling in the meat itself.
(As a side note, you may have seen Wagyu beef on a menu and thought of it as Kobe, but in fact Waguy actually means it is Japanese breed but can be reared anywhere in the world).
While other restaurants offer Kobe beef, I am informed that Engawa is the only UK restaurant to import the entire Kobe cow enabling them to offer a wider range of cuts.
We started our evening with a Japanese Negroni, Engawa’s take on my favourite cocktail, which included Campari, Martini Rosso, Gassan No Yuki sake and gin. I’m usually a purist with my negronis, but this one hit the spot.
For dinner, the menus are offered as three (£60), five (£80) or eight courses (£100), and at various stages throughout the evening, small portions of Kobe beef of various cuts and cooking methods are served.
You never quite get enough of it though, therefore I would definitely recommend the larger menu.
For lunch, 11 (£30) and 14 piece (£40) bento boxes are offered, along with a few other dishes, making the experience much more accessible.
One thing is for sure: each dish is presented with impeccable precision and is a visual feast.
From the 8-course menu, highlights included Kobe Beef Yukhoe, finely chopped Kobe beef with dashi stock, garnished with grated yam and spring onion served on a large square of ice; Slow-cooked Kobe beef and daikon in dashi stock; and the main event, a choice of cut of Kobe beef cooked to your liking with a selection of vegetables.
With just 29 seats, some of which are counter seats directly in front of the chefs, Engawa is certainly intimate, but it seems fitting that the most exclusive of meats can only be offered to so few each day.
Engawa was brought to the UK by The Salt Group, who have a number of restaurants in Tokyo and Osaka, and General Manager Daniel Ashworth previously worked at Nobu in London.