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Dinings - Where Foie Gras Meets Wagyu Sushi

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Modern Japanese food has definitely come a long way since Nobu’s heyday with many restaurants now vying for the runner-up spot. Dinings has been around for a few years with some rather vocal fans so eventually we booked a table for us and 6 other friends to have dinner together.

King crab tartar chip. At our waitresses recommendation we started off with this (and a friend was bleating to try something with king crab that day). Essentially shredded crabmeat with a little diced shallots (or onion) on top of a pringle slice (or something similar), it was actually quite a nice little starter. The natural sweetness of the crabmeat was left untampered and the shallots just gave it a little edginess.

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Chu-toro tartar with truffles. Even the aromatic truffles couldn’t hide the fishiness of the chu-toro. Disappointing it was. A bit of a shame as I would probably have quite liked the mixture of the fatty fish and slightly tart soya sauce.

Spider roll. Nearly the same soft shell crab roll as anywhere else, Dinings does it slightly differently with the thin radish coating around the seaweed to give it a little extra crunch (like Nobu's). The deep fried soft shell crab is pretty good though being quite large. It also felt freshly fried. The rice was pretty decent and the roll held together well en route from plate to mouth.

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Wagyu beef tataki. I remembered a fair few bloggers raving about this so I made sure I ordered it. Perhaps the hype did it no favours though since it didn’t quite live up to expectations. The beef itself seem to have been technically well executed with the pinkness in the middle, but I didn’t get a lot of beef taste back from it and it was disappointingly lean; a far cry from the fatty wagyu steaks I had in the past. After that, the tart marinade was just a bit meh.

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Wagyu beef sushi with foie gras. This sounds like something that wouldn’t really work – I can understand pairing beef with foie gras, but surely the rice would spoil the mixture by diluting the taste? – but in actuality it turned out to be really good! Ok so the quality of the (supposedly) wagyu beef is again debatable, and perhaps the pieces of foie were quite small, but eating them all together with the rice and the sweet soya sauce was jawdroppingly good. The natural oiliness of the beef and foie just oozed out between each mouthful and mixed into the rice.

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Grilled salmon collar. The meat was slightly on the dry side and it seemed to be lacking its usual oily nature but overall it was not bad although not fantastic.

Chargrilled wagyu beef with seasonal vegetables and Korean spicy miso”. Again, it just didn’t have the marbling one associates with wagyu.

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Crispy pork belly with yuzu miso sauce”. Perhaps the stand-out dish of the night? The pork was perfectly cooked with an extremely gorgeous crackling that truly crackled without being too tooth-breakingly-crunchy with just a little bit of the gooey sticky gelatin underneath the skin. The little bits of shallots and chives just gave it a little bit of freshness while the miso sauce provided the necessary salt for seasoning.

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Chu-toro tobanyaki. From the night’s best dish to the worst in the space of a few minutes. I didn’t think it was chu-toro at all as it seemed far too lean, it felt just like normal tuna but with false hopes and expectations. The sizzling dish itself was fun to play with though as one could further cook the fish by letting it sit on the side of the plate.

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Udon. Not bad. Not amazing. Koya’s better.

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Matcha Crème brûlée. The brûlée was rich and creamy and the green tea addition was actually quite light in flavour if not in colour. Worked out really well actually.

Black sesame crème caramel. This was my favourite out of the four different types of desserts we tried. It’s really hard to describe this dessert and what made it taste so good but it all seemed to work together really well. There was a slightly crunchy black sesame base with a creamy frothy top.

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Hoji-cha panna cotta. Hoji-cha is a type of roasted green tea. The panna cotta itself is ok and not bad, very creamy, but the taste of the green tea isn’t very strong and didn’t come out well.

Summer truffle ice cream”. Err again this was a bit of a weird combination. I didn’t like the savoury oily feel of the truffles along with the ice cream. The PigPig however liked this and licked the spoons clean.

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Altogether, we paid £45 each and we actually ate quite a lot (we double ordered most of the dishes above) and left the restaurant quite full. Service from our waitress was not bad for a while as she was quite helpful in helping us make our choices.

It got a bit sour towards the end though as she then pretty much rushed us through our last few courses as it turned out we could only have our table for 2 hours. Admittedly, we did turn up 30 minutes late, but even being rushed through our last few plates of food (our bill came before our desserts arrived) we still finished 30 minutes after we were supposed to leave. As we left the restaurant after paying our bill, the waitress then came out and asked us not to wander off as she needed to double check our payments as it didn’t total up (this was AFTER we got rushed away from our table). Anyway it later turned out that we didn’t try to cheat them and she left us alone.

Food – 6.5
Service – 3.0
Atmosphere – 4.0
Value – 5.0

*Guide to restaurant food ratings

I found the food here a bit hit and miss. The wagyu sushi and crispy pork belly were really good eats, but I found the quality of the chu-toro and wagyu beef itself a bit questionable. Still we were fairly happy with the overall quality of the food although I’m not particularly rushing back.

Best bit: crispy pork belly!
Worst bit: being chased out of the restaurant. Not cool.

22 Harcourt St
Paddington, W1H 4HH
Tel:+44(020) 7723 0666
Official website

Dinings on Urbanspoon

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