Four years ago Russian born Arkady Novikov braved his first foray on British soil and called it Novikov. Daring to take on a ginormous site of 540 covers, Arkady spent £10 million developing it and created Novikov Asian & Novikov Italian. Located on Berkeley St, opposite none other than Nobu – the famed Japanese restaurant has got a fierce competitor in Novikov. The buzzy atmosphere is one of a swanky VIP club, with house-music playing loudly and a ravishingly rich clientele.
It’s a Tuesday night and by the looks of the large crowds of well-heeled women stood outside smoking, tonight is going to be busy. The bouncers open the doors and we’re invited to the reservations desk. Our table is at the back of the restaurant, overlooking the bustling waiters swerving between tightly-packed tables and with a fabulous view into the kitchens. The atmosphere is buzzy and loud, as well as being incredibly busy for a week night. Dimly lit spotlights and grand floral arrangements separate the restaurant up into sections and provide a more intimate, personal environment.
We order champagne and after reading through the long menu and coming up trumps, our waitress suggests she order for us. We begin with some raw sashimi dishes; tuna tataki, scallop sashimi with yuzu dressing, seared nigiri and a signature Novikov dish, quail egg & truffle gunken. Each dish was fresh and flavoursome, served with the complimenting sauces. The scallop sashimi was a favourite, with it’s rich flavour and zesty yuzu dressing. After that we decided to order two dishes ourselves; dynamite shrimp and peking duck & foie gras. The shrimp was lovely, great crunchy batter and flavour – however with a name like ‘dynamite’ we were expecting perhaps a little more heat. Alternatively, the duck & foie gras was unlike anything we’d ever eaten before. Beautiful duck breast, fat removed, crispy skin with a layer of foie gras between it. By far the best thing on the menu and could be the dish that makes Novikov.
Next it was onto the mains and not only does Novikov serve up a variety of different Asian cuisines, but also houses its very own fish market filled with langoustines, lobster, crab and much more. The fish at Novikov are all sourced from Portugal, where the quality of the fish is much higher and Novikov are number one customer to their supplier. We began with the grilled king crab leg – one of the most pricey items on the menu priced at £69.99 but it was worth it. Succulent meat, wonderful favour and more than enough for two people. We swiftly moved onto the much anticipated dish of miso baby chicken. Hoping that Zuma would finally get some chicken competition we dived into our first mouthful of chicken to be sorely disappointed. Lovely flavour, nothing unpleasant but it just didn’t have that deep, 48 hour marinated flavour that the Zuma chicken has so much of.
After a short break to digest the humungous amount of food we had consumed, our waitress returned with a traditional Asian wooden bowl filled with razor clams and rice. A truly delicious, far more authentic dish than others. Razor clams have a very distinctive fishy flavour, which personally we loved – however maybe not the best dish for someone who’s not an avid fish lover. Finally it was onto a dim sum selection, including scallop, black cod, prawn and a vegetarian friendly mushroom. Novikov is definitely the place to come for presentation and finesse – in fact every dish on the menu is clearly lovingly prepared and plated up to perfection.
Time for something sweet and once again, after lusting after every dessert on the menu, we left this important decision down to our waitress. Then seemingly out of nowhere came a ginormous desser platter complete with dry ice pouring over every table it passed and a gigantic sparkler. We watched in awe wondering who had ordered such a wonderful dessert but soon our faces turned to shock as the platter was put down in front of us. You’ll be pleased to hear that the platter wasn’t merely just aesthetically pleasing, but also absolutely delicious. The platter comprised of a selection of delicately flavoured ice creams and sorbets, a light fluffy creme brûlée and rich chocolate fondant.
It looks like Novikov is set to become the next it restaurant in London and the likes of Zuma, Roka and Nobu better watch out!
Novikov Restaurant & Bar
50A Berkeley Street
London, W1J 8HA