Almost without exception, Hamamoto doesn’t disappoint, with a menu that’s well-balanced, acceptably exotic and excellently proportioned
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The omakase experience is full of jeopardy. You are putting your taste buds and digestive system in the hands of a stranger, and you are trusting the chef to feed you food that you would like to eat. Thankfully, all trust issues are out the window at Hamamoto, where the menu is well-balanced, acceptably exotic and excellently proportioned. Move past the amuse bouche and soon you’ll enter binchotan territory, where Hamo (daggertooth pike conger) is gently licked with fire before curling up and presenting itself with a pleasant rich fattiness.
The Lobster, Uni and Caviar dish that follows is quite simply one of the best things we have ever lasted. Redolent of the sea, it’s an extraordinary combination of ingredients put together with a balance that speaks not only of years of experience, but an understanding of what goes in a taste ensemble. The shiso flower touch, while not exactly revelatory in this type of cuisine, is exactly what’s required to undercut the richness of some of the ingredients. The Grilled Eel that comes next is a willing gameplayer in mitigating the effects of the previous big flavours. A sauce accompanies the grilled, crisp-skinned unagi, though we’d have preferred nothing more than a dash of salt and a hint of wasabi to bring out its complexities.
Still, there are no smoke and mirrors because the chef is so adept at what he does and so confident in his ingredients that there’s no need. This ethos is carried through to the nigiri offerings that are uncomplicated and as pure as the driven snow. There’s one-month-marinated-in-sake salmon roe that bursts with oceanic essence and a botan ebi that is simply to die for.
Hamamoto deservedly boasts a Michelin star and it’s not difficult to see why. There is a studied precision to every dish that sits in front of a diner in an intimate space, with a coherent design ethic that focuses every attention on the man behind the mission. There are few straight lines, even at the counter, but the curvature itself has a gentle but energetic flow to it that concentrates focus on what’s important. Chef Kazu Hamamoto has a very good sense of humour, and clearly enjoys what he does. The fact that he is front and centre during everyone’s dining experience is a joy to behold as his character can do little else but rub off on those before him. This makes dining at the restaurant a wonderful experience to be experienced.