A woozy Grace Dent is chased down the King’s Road af­ter a joy­ful Ja­panese at

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One of the first ques­tions any­one asks about Grace and Flavour if they meet me at a party — af­ter sug­gest­ing I take them for a free din­ner — is: ‘Do you choose where to go or do they?’ I’m not sure why peo­ple’s minds al­ways flip to this grey ad­min­is­tra­tive query, but I know eyes glaze over when I give the wishy-washy re­sponse that it’s a bit of both.

With my trip to Kurobuta, a pop-up Ja­panese spot at the far end of the King’s Road, soon to have a per­ma­nent base in Mar­ble Arch, I can as­sure you it was a ‘they’. A chilly Jan­uary evening, an im­per­ma­nent café where Aus­tralians are cook­ing Ja­panese in the land of red jeans, and a 40-minute jour­ney from my front door on an evening I al­ready had a very cru­cial night planned fluff­ing the dog’s ears while telling her she is a beau­ti­ful princess at least 345 times.

How­ever, if ‘they’ hadn’t prod­ded me, I would prob­a­bly have missed Kurobuta and this would have been a trav­esty be­cause I’ve wanged on about the place to ev­ery hu­man be­ing I’ve met since I paid the bill and stum­bled out, re­freshed on sake, and the wait­ress had to chase me up the King’s Road with a pair of shoes. I can’t be the only woman who reg­u­larly leaves shoes in restau­rants. I have shoes to travel and shoes ‘to be’ and af­ter two ly­chee cock­tails and a large Silent For­est sake things can get con­fus­ing. This was one of the most per­fectly con­jured, pleas­ing din­ners I’ve eaten. We started with a glo­ri­ous plate of yel­low­tail sashimi with kizami wasabi salsa and yuzu-soy, then a sat­is­fy­ing whack of beef fil­let tataki with onion ponzu and gar­lic crisps. Plates are small, made for shar­ing (in the­ory), and ar­rive scream­ing of fresh­ness and a love of devil­ish de­tail. But do take your most ac­com­mo­dat­ing credit card be­cause Kurobuta not only has an ex-Nobu head chef but, at times, Nobu prices and it’s ridicu­lously easy to let th­ese tiny plates of joy mount up. For ex­am­ple, two lit­tle Wagyu beef slid­ers in brioche buns with umami mayo come at £19 for the pair, which I ate in a rapid

This isn’t unc­tu­ous noo­dles at Koya or glossy plates of black cod at Nobu. It’s not sashimi with a view at Sushisamba or aloofly au­then­tic like Yashin. It’s just a café, at the mo­ment a pop-up held to­gether here and there with string, fir­ing out great food and cock­tails. The fact that we have all th­ese places to eat Ja­panese in Lon­don should be kept in mind ev­ery time one thinks of mov­ing to the mid­dle of nowhere where the height of your ex­cite­ment will be con­coct­ing some­thing ex­otic from Sharwood noo­dles and soy sauce.

Af­ter sake we moved on to a cock­tail called The Green Bas­tard. By this point things were de­li­ciously woozy and I was re­minded of one of my favourite sto­ries about the now-de­funct pub The Man in the Moon, which sat close to Kurobuta on a cor­ner, and thus had three dif­fer­ent en­trances. One night a very ham­mered man fell through the door and was ejected swiftly by the man­ager, only to ap­pear through another door and be slung out again. As he ap­peared through the fi­nal door and felt the fa­mil­iar hand on his shoul­der, he slurred at the man­ager: ‘Sir, do you own all the pubs on the King’s Road?’ I thought about this as the wait­ress gave me my shoes. The King’s Road can be rather jolly.

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