Intrigued by the popularity of London’s Novikov restaurants and bar in Mayfair, we decided to put the high-end haunt’s Asian dining room on a foodie road test.
Frequented by London’s party it-list and food cognoscenti alike, Novikov’s different day-to-night offerings (it houses an interesting combination of Italian restaurant, Asian dining room and decadently dressed cocktail lounge and bar all under one roof) are clearly a hit with its well-heeled clientele who steadily pour in from lunchtime until late.
We were warmly welcomed to our table at the Asian dining room to experience the far-Asian inspired menu within the suave space. Dimly lit and dressed using rich warm woods and stunning pink-purple fuchsia orchids placed on tables, the décor is kept clean and discreet so that the clear focus is emphasised on savouring the food. Quite rightly so, as we soon discovered this really is a spectacular foodie feast for all the senses.
We were presented with a very well thought out and extensive Chinese and pan-Asian themed menu to choose from, ranging from dim sum, sushi, sashimi, soups and salads to barbecued, wok-style and chargrilled cooking, through to noodles and rice dishes.
Taking some great advice from our waitress, we started with delicious and delicately thin steamed dim sum parcels of spicy prawn ‘moneybags’, truffle pork siu mai and black cod dumplings, dipping them daintily into soy sauce and popping them in our mouths for a full Eastern flavour explosion each time.
Next arrived a small plate of fresh melt-in-the-mouth yellowtail tuna soaked in a yuzu dressing with fresh chopped chilli and coriander – utterly moreish but we decided to save our appetite for the mains to follow.
We took a walk up to the Asian dining room’s market stall-style area in front of the clear glass walled kitchen where colourful, fresh vegetables are displayed in deep wicker baskets beside an ice counter topped with fresh seafood: razor clams, scallops and fillets, steaks and whole fish including monkfish, tuna and stone bass. Exciting on the eyes, diners are invited to choose any produce from this spread to create a bespoke dish such as a wok stir fry – just in case the amazing menu alone doesn’t take your fancy.
We decided to go for the stone bass served Moroccan-style with a special rub of cumin powder, turmeric powder, lemon juice and paprika and baked to steam the delicate fish to perfection. This was served with a fresh tangy tomato, coriander and onion salsa to contrast the lightly spiced fish. We also enjoyed our fish with super-soft large pieces of Szechuan aubergine and shared a plate of seasonal wok vegetables such as mushrooms and bok choi.
Our meal could have satisfyingly ended there but we had one more highly recommended dish to sample before our main course was over: creamy wasabi gratinated king crab leg, served in its shell and a welcoming contrast to the stone bass dish before. If you want to try something out of the ordinary at a pan-Asian restaurant that is equally tasty, then this is it.
To round off our meal, we were spoilt for choice with the impressive dessert menu and tucked into an exotic fresh fruit platter of dragonfruit, mango, papaya and pineapple with a refreshing apricot sorbet and a Novikov take on strawberry millefeuille with crisp pastry layers, strawberry jam base and cream.
It’s no wonder that Novikov never fails to impress with all that it has to offer. Well worth adding to your black book of musts in London, watch this space for our verdict on the Italian restaurant soon.
By Reena Patel