Latest opening: Kibako

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Japanese restaurant Kibako launches in Fitzrovia

Related tags Kibako Japanese cuisine Hot Stone Hot Stone Group Sushi Padam Raj Rai

A Fitzrovia-based Japanese restaurant that’s boxing clever on the former site of RAI.

What:​ A sleek Japanese restaurant just off Charlotte Street that specialises in set meals that begin with the eponymous kibako - multi-compartment boxes filled with sushi and sashimi and a few associated items. On Windmill Street, the restaurant also offers a tight selection of a la carte dishes. 

Who:​ Kibako is from the same stable as Islington Japanese restaurant Hot Stone and recently launched Great Portland Street modern Nepalese restaurant The Gurkhas.​The restaurant is located on the former site of Hot Stone Group’s Japanese fine dining restaurant RAI, which is looking for a new home following its closure earlier this year. The group’s Nepalese-born executive chef Padam Raj Rai is overseeing the food and has quite the CV for it having trained as a sushi chef in Japan and worked for many of London’s top sushi restaurants including Roka, Nobu, Sake No Hana and Tsukiji Sushi at the Westbury Hotel (he was head chef at the latter). 

The vibe:​ The site is pretty much identical to that inhabited RAI.​ Ripping out the high-spec, modern Japanese space and starting again was presumably not an option with Kibako’s predecessor having only launched in 2022. The reason for RAI’s closure has not been made public, but one suspects its top-end positioning and tasting-menu-only approach didn’t turn out to be a great fit for the area and that Kibako is a play for discerning diners that are looking for something a bit less full on. 

Kibako

The food:​ The left side of Kibako’s menu is made of a la carte dishes including sushi and sashimi selections, carpaccios, maki rolls and some hot options including grilled aubergine, saikyo miso and truffle; and A5 Kagosihma wagyu, with fresh wasabi and aged soy. The right of the menu details Kibako’s ‘omakase’ box menus which are priced at £49 and £59 (those that opt for the latter will get more luxurious ingredients). Whichever one goes for it’s a bit of a bargain given the attention to detail that goes into these miniature dishes and the fact that they are followed by a generous main course that’s served alongside seasonal vegetables, rice, homemade miso soup and tsukemono as well as a dessert. 

To drink:​ The wine list may be tight - there are just five whites and four reds - but it’s not short of premium options to match Kibako’s high-end food. As one would expect, there is a more extensive selection of sake: around 20 different options with the majority available by 100ml glass as well as by the bottle. Prices start at £11 a glass with the list topping out at £152 for a bottle of Koshi No Kanbai Kinmuki Junmai Daiginjo.  

And another thing:​ Kibako is one of a handful of UK restaurants licensed to sell Kobe beef. Kobe beef is essentially a a protected type of wagyu (which means Japanese beef) that comes from the prefecture of Hyogo where the capital city is Kobe. The meat is usually more expensive than meat marketed under the more generic wagyu because it must be of a high grade (A4 or A5) and the whole supply chain must be certified in order to call it Kobe beef. 

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