Hidden near Piccadilly Circus on Mayfair is a restaurant sitting on the corner without much appeal from the exterior, but upon entry one is surprised by the enormity and grandeur immediately. Novikov is a three-sectioned restaurant and club owned by a Russian billionaire and restaurant king Arkady Novikov. The restaurant is actually two restaurants — Asian and Italian — and a nightclub.
Each restaurant is so carefully designed and separate that one would never even guess that they were completely interconnected. We decided to go for the Asian restaurant. The menu right off the bat tells you that it’s expensive, modern, and “innovative.” The food is refined and composed of careful high-quality ingredients. Everything is carefully well maintained and presented artfully, from the chopsticks on the table to a hot cup of tea.
The Asian restaurant featured foods that aren’t found in typical counterparts: quail egg, soft shell crab sushi, truffle all over the place, and “new-style” sashimi, which is thinly sliced with some sauce and truffle. Everything is pricey and specific, but there was definitely an appeal to it all.
I ordered the soft shell crab sushi and a dim sum tasting platter. The portions are very small — My sushi roll consisted of maybe 4-5 pieces total, and the dim sum tasting platter was 5 pieces (which is fine since it was an appetizer). It was evident immediately that the food is carefully crafted. The dim sum was unlike anything I’ve had before — carefully wrapped, colorful, presented beautifully, and tasty. The soft shell crab roll was also very different, fresh, and memorable. Overall, the dishes were memorable.
The waitstaff is very friendly, approachable, and respectable. Many of them are foreign (including Russians, of course).
I can’t say I was terribly full after the meal, but I will say that it was definitely very enjoyable. I was very sick of huge portion sizes at fair restaurants in London, so this was a very refined and refreshing change in the routine. The meal was definitely very memorable, and we topped it off with a Nutella cheesecake and some tea. They have an extensive list of interesting desserts and fine teas.
What I was very particularly impressed with was the kitchen. The kitchen is a completely open area separated by only clear glass windows, and right outside the kitchen is a tremendous showcase of their ingredients. There were fruits, fish, and all sorts of fresh ingredients showcased beautifully that I have never seen before to such an extent. The kitchen immediately let you know that this is the real deal and nothing to mess around with.
I glimpsed at the other section of the restaurant which contained the Italian portion. Details were not spared on the Italian side either. There was a huge wall of wine, a large showcase of fine Italian meats and fish, and a fine brick oven.
The Asian and Italian restaurants had a comforting color contrast — the Asian restaurant had a darker atmosphere while the Italian restaurant had a much brighter and lighter atmosphere. Nevertheless, both atmospheres worked very well and balanced each other out. In between the two restaurants, there was a staircase leading downstairs to a stylish nightclub. It was clear to me that this became a very trendy and tasteful nightclub after hours.
Overall, I had a very good impression of Novikov. Although some may be turned off by the prices and extravagantly innovative dishes, there is something very refined, tasteful, and elitist about the experience. It is not a normal run-of-the-mill restaurant. There is clearly great care and work put into the maintenance and upkeep of the quality of food and service, which I will always appreciate. The food was memorable, which already is a huge plus for me. I would likely come back if I were to ever return to London.