Ginza Onodera is a world away from the bustle that surrounds it, in fact, from the moment you step through the doors, you may as well be in Tokyo. Just five minutes from Green Park Underground station with Piccadilly, Pall Mall and Hatton Garden making up the surrounding streets, you’d be forgiven for expecting the bustle to extend into the restaurant but what you get with Ginza Onodera is tranquility, style, clean lines and a touch of luxury.
The restaurant is set over two floors with a cocktail lounge greeting you at street level and as you wind your way downstairs, you come to the main restaurant. It feels at once intimate and calm. There are intriguing rooms where you and your party can enjoy teppanyaki with your own chef in a private space. It is the perfect place for a small get together.
The menu is extensive and exquisite, offering something for every palette and every occasion with a cocktail menu to die for. For fans of whisky and sake, the choice will not disappoint. There is the option to eat à la carte but as a weekend treat for my friend and I, I booked a lunch time table to try the newest set menu at Ginza Onodera – their recently introduced Onodera Ochakai Japanese Afternoon Tea.
This new menu is an inspired fusion of the ancient Japanese tea ceremony and afternoon tea traditions of the UK. The tea is provided by the Japanese Matcha house, Tsujiri, and the food is perfectly paired offerings of sushi spider rolls, Wagyu beef sliders, salmon tataki and chicken karaage. There are two dessert options with the menu and I highly recommend trying both. Optional extras include cocktails, champagne and a tea ceremony with two specialty teas brewed at your table as you watch.
From the moment we arrived, tired from a morning spent travelling across London, we were treated with the highest level of care and attention. The staff were accommodating and professional, ensuring our glasses were always full but never intruding on our enjoyment of the meal. It’s important to note that when we requested to swap some of the meat dishes for vegetarian options, the chef was more than happy to do so.
The food itself was as to be expected, an eruption of gorgeous flavours prepared expertly by knowledgeable hands. My highlights were the sushi spider rolls, a triumph of deep fried soft-shell crab and wasabi; the salmon tataki, ever so lightly seared; and the chocolate gateau, served with motchi ice cream and matcha sauce, a flawless note on an exceptional meal. The cocktails were prepared with such expertise that by themselves they would satisfy even the most complex palette. The teas on offer with the menu worked as a perfect complement to each item on the menu, a testament to the skillfulness of the creators.
The Japanese Afternoon Tea menu at Ginza Onodera is an ideal option for a long weekend lunch with a friend. It effortlessly combines a laid-back, elegant ambiance with a menu that is interesting, diverse and full of flavour.
Due to the central location, it is the perfect place to relax during a day’s shopping or sightseeing. It is within walking distance of St. James’s Palace, The National Gallery and Bloomsbury Auction House.
Ginza Onodera is a must for anybody who enjoys Japanese cuisine; they are masters of their craft.
Ginza Onodera, 15 Bury Street, St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6AL, England
Tel: +44 20 7839 1101
The closest Underground station is Green Park on the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria lines. Take the second right after The Ritz onto St James’s Street then the first right onto Jermyn Street and first right onto Bury Street, which is in total less than a 10-minute walk. Afternoon Tea is served on Saturday and Sunday from 2:00pm to 4:00pm (last orders).
Type of Restaurant: Japanese Restaurant
Price Band: Afternoon Tea starts from £27.50 per person for one tea selection, £35 with a cocktail and £38 with a glass of fizz.
Insider Tip: Vegan options are now available at Ginza Onodera.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Liz Tecirli is a freelance travel writer specialising in adventure travel, extreme sports and luxury breaks.
Photographs courtesy of Ginza Onodera