Mr Ji, Soho
Taiwanese-inspired Mr Ji has reopened with a fresh new look. Working closely with friends Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng of Tātā Eatery and Tóu on the redesign and menu development, founder Samuel Haim has transformed Mr Ji from a grab-and-go spot to a buzzy space with table service. Taking cues from Taiwanese canteens for the daytime and late-night bars for the evening, Mr Ji now offers a more refined, expanded menu that’s still centred around the chicken dishes for which it is known, as well as a fresh cocktail menu. Guests can kick off with fried panko-crusted chicken hearts with sweet curry sauce and lettuce cups; or ‘Prawn ‘In’ Toast’ – a toasted brioche ‘box’ filled with prawns in a bechamel sauce with sweetcorn and parmesan). Follow up with more substantial dishes such as ‘The O’Ji’ – a deep-fried chicken breast with mustard pickle mayo. On the drinks front, we recommend the ‘Salted Plum Negroni’, made with Japanese umeshu, vermouth, bitters and tequila; or the ‘Rice Martini’, a mix of Cuban rum, manzanilla, glutinous rice syrup, maraschino and lime essence.
72 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4UN; open now
Kol, the debut restaurant from Mexican chef Santiago Lastra, has had a couple of false starts over the last year. But now it’s ready to open properly. And this time, there’s a basement bar too – Kol Mezcaleria. Santiago and the team will be serving authentic Mexican food across the 56-cover dining room and intimate chef’s table. Expect to try the likes of langoustine tacos with smoked chilli and sea buckthorn; kohlrabi with pink mole, pumpkin agua chile and smoked beetroot; confit pork cheek carnitas with cabbage leaves, gooseberry, pear salsa and black beans, as well as Kentish oaxaca cheese, butternut squash and wild mushroom quesadilla. Headed up by bar manager Maxim Schulte (formerly of The Savoy’s American Bar), the downstairs mezcaleria seats 26 and will house one of Europe’s most extensive selections of Mexican and agave spirits, offering more than 80 varieties of tequila and mezcal sourced from small-scale and independent distillers. Maxim’s cocktail menu makes use of both Mexican and British ingredients, and takes a culinary approach. The drinks go hand in hand with Santiago’s ‘antojitos’ – street food-style snacks inspired by delicacies found in the country’s indigenous communities. We can’t wait to visit.
9 Seymour Street, Marylebone, W1H 7BA; from 19th May
Humble Chicken, Soho
Angelo Sato is set to launch an intimate yakitori bar, Humble Chicken, this week. Having worked in various Tokyo restaurants from the age of 14, Sato moved to London at 17 hoping to work for Gordon Ramsay. He turned up at his Chelsea restaurant and convinced then-head chef Clare Smyth to give him a job. He has since worked at Adam Byatt’s Trinity, Eleven Madison Park in New York and Restaurant Story. Influenced by his Japanese heritage, Sato has created a ‘comb to tail’ cooking experience, making use of every part of the bird, from cartilage and achilles to gizzards and knee. The skewers will be cooked over bincho-tan charcoal on a traditional Japanese grill imported from Kappabashi in Tokyo, while sauces such as tare and ‘burnt fat’ will further enhance the flavours. Elsewhere, miso foie gras with black sesame, pine nuts and rice crackers, and crispy chicken feet are designed to be enjoyed with a cocktail. Larger plates offer chicken alternatives such as hakata pork belly with braised daikon, yolk and mustard. Sake cocktails and whisky highballs will round off the menu.
54 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4SJ; 20th May