Housed in a Grade I-listed building in a cobbled Knightsbridge mews, Dinings SW3 is the follow-up to Dinings in Marylebone, which has been winning praise since it was opened by former Nobu chefs back in 2006. The 24-cover dining room (with another 20 covers in the courtyard) is spread over the restaurant’s ground and mezzanine floors, with an open kitchen that has a 10-cover sushi counter wrapped around it. Although the interior space is compact, tall ceilings and high windows make it feel airy and bright, and the private courtyard must be one of the loveliest spots in this neighbourhood for dining alfresco.
A long menu sees the blending of traditional Japanese food with modern European cuisine, with sushi and sashimi options changing seasonally and seafood sourced from boats fishing off the Cornish coast. When I asked if we would be able to finish the signature tasting menu (£75) in just an hour and a half, our waitress assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem. She walked swiftly back to the kitchen and returned minutes later with our first dishes. Throughout our meal, staff provided a flawless and knowledgeable service.
If I were to namecheck just a few must-order dishes, I would start with the nasu-miso double-cooked aubergine (£7.80) and corn-fed French poussin teriyaki (£21). A thick slice of aubergine was served piping hot, and we scooped out the soft flesh with the same enjoyment as if it were a creamy mousse. The poussin was cooked over charcoal in a Josper grill, glazed in its sticky sauce and nicely seasoned with asakura sansho, a traditional variety of Japanese pepper.
Another favourite for me was the wagyu burger (£9), three bites of steamed burger in spicy teriyaki and sesame sauces. It’s not part of the tasting menu, but our waitress insisted we try it, as it’s one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. I only wish they served a full-sized version. The tar-tar chips are also worth a mention: these Japanese-style mini tacos come with different fillings depending on the season. We tried them with toro (fatty tuna) and jalapeño mayonnaise (£4.60), as well as a hand-dived Scottish scallop version with taramo sauce (£3.80). Order a couple each to kick-start your meal.
By the time the sushi was served, my bar was set pretty high. The seared o-toro with kizami wasabi (£9.60), Scottish salmon zuke with onion soy jam (£5.50) and seared yellowtail belly with yuzu kosho (£6.90) didn’t disappoint. The shrimp tempura inside-out sushi rolls with crispy tempura flakes and spicy taramo sauce (£9.90 for six rolls), on the other hand, were a bit dry and in my opinion didn’t appeal as much as the other dishes.
For dessert, a crème brûlée trio (£9.90) presented inventive flavour combinations of wasanbon sugar with kuromitsu caviar, hoji tea with fresh nashi pears brunoise and black sesame with passion-fruit caviar. With a glass of Umenomi plum sake (£10), it was a great end to a near-perfect meal.
My recommendation? Go for the six-course set lunch menu (£30 per person) and add an extra course of that double-cooked aubergine on the side.
Giulia Mulè is a food and travel writer based in London who is passionate about sharing food photography on her Instagram feed (@mondomulia) and blog Mondomulia (mondomulia.com). Originally from Rome, Mulè has spent over a decade living in London and travelling the world. In her spare time, she organises brunch meet-ups with @IGBrunchClub and fundraising events with @CreatingForGood – a collective of Instagrammers who share their creative skills to raise money for selected charities.