If you are looking for modern Japanese food, Dinings is the place to go. Classic tuna belly but topped with foie gras mousse, simple lemon sole sushi but topped with parma ham and waygu beef cooked in mouthwatering ways. The residential house exterior will only reveal to those looking for it and the compact interior resembled a small living room than a spacious modern restaurant. Based on the fusion menu, I didn’t expect a pure Japanese crew which proved correct. Even the diners were not Japanese, probably because it lacked the comfort and superior service of a traditional Japanese restaurant. But other than that, the food was delicious!
Located between Edgware road and Marylebone, this boutique restaurant was split into two levels. Ground floor could only host a bench long sushi bar for 6 people and downstairs had only 6 tables or so. Because of this limited seating, booking is essential.
I’m normally good at picking Japanese dishes, but the menu here seriously puzzled me. No clue where to begin as the dish names were scattered over the menu with no indication of size, course or whether it’s good to share. Furthered by a separate lunch menu and a specials board, the latter was placed two tables away from us, too awkward to walkover and stare. In the main menu, a few small pages were glued on that displayed chef’s special, laid out in a tasting menu way so I had to ask how to order it. Now I understand what people feel when looking through Chinese menus with their glasses!
Anyways, long story cut short, we gave up and ordered the set lunch with a random pick from the appetiser section (the first one).
Fatty tuna sashimi spoons with foie gras mousse and kizami wasabi
Now I know appetisers are only four spoonfuls, it’d be good to order a selection next time. Tuna belly is the fattiest part of tuna so topping it with foie gras mousse risked overpowering the freshness. Two spoonfuls were enough to still enjoy the creamy texture but anything more would’ve overwhelmed my tastebud for other dishes.
Dinings style special chirashi donburi
This was from the lunch menu, the classic chirashi don with a twist. Normally it’s bowl of sushi rice topped with a selection of sashimi, so besides that it was served on a plate, I was less impressed by the quality. The sashimi was ok but the rice was a bit dry. I prefer the one at Yoshino.
As a set, it came with lobster miso soup and a choice of steamed vegetables or tempura. I loved the lobster miso soup, good flavour and not as salty as most high street chains. The steamed vegetables were strange to have with sushi, five sticks of carrot, aubergine, corn etc. Make sure to avoid it and order tempura instead.
Chargrilled waygu beef and seasonal vegetable donburi
This was also on the lunch menu, 150g wagyu beef on a long bed of rice topped with a teriyaki like sauce. I couldn’t tell what grade these wagyu beef were but I thoroughly enjoyed this dish as wagyu beef taste richer and more tender than others. It was nicely cooked, still pink in the middle to make a medium rare but it would’ve been better if the edges weren’t as well done.
Coffee and tea
Verdict - 3/5
Food (good) - food was good based on the limited dishes we had. A better choice would be to order a selection of appetisers for a full view of the flavour. The modern twists were definitely unique which not many places could’ve executed this good. However, I still prefer the casual and comfort of a traditional Japanese restaurant, like Yoshino. Also saves the trouble of reading Dinings’ confusing menu.
Service (ok) - service was a bit lazy rather than Japanese restaurant’s extra attentive style. Food did come fast so we didn’t wait for anything.
Cost (expensive) - the two of us spent £86 just on three dishes. Although they tasted good, I’d prefer a cheaper and better quality restaurant.