Novikov Restaurant — Mayfair, London
I first came to Novikov about five years ago and loved it. It’s definitely in the running for the best halal restaurant in London. It’s an old favourite, much better than Nobu, and a great place to visit if you want to push the boat out. Located in Berkeley Street, Mayfair, Novikov has two restaurants with two different kitchens. Pan Asian cuisine being my absolute favourite, we went to the ‘Asian’ room rather than the ‘Italian’ room.
Ambience at Novikov
Novikov gives off a swanky, trendy vibe — most people were dolled up which I was surprised about as we went on a Tuesday night (my husbands birthday). Booking ahead is a must, especially if you’re planning to go on a weekend. What makes Novikov so cool and modish, is the kitchen which is placed at the back of the restaurant. It’s surrounded in glass so you can watch the chefs at work. Apart from this there is wonderful display of fresh vegetables and seafood which diners can buy at extortionate prices — £5 for one Chinese cabbage! A lovely lobster was alive and kicking, not for long though. Just near our table was a tank of eels swimming around too.
Naturally with such a spectacle in front of you, it’s hard not to sit back and just enjoy the surroundings before the food has arrived. And before you order, a small selection of raw vegetables are put on the table with this heavenly sauce. I don’t know what it was but it is seriously scrumptious with hints of chilli and soy in a creamy sauce, an encouraging start to the evening.
The Food at Novikov
Novikov offers a variety of Japanese and Chinese food, from sushi to dim sum, sashimi to egg fried rice — with such diversity no one can be left disappointed. For starters we ordered Yuzu quail, tom yum soup and chicken buns.
We only ordered quail because halal quail in London is hard to find. It arrived coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried, a variation on fried chicken. Quail having a more meaty taste made this a wonderfully gratifying starter.
The chicken buns, which are a kind of dim sum had minced chicken inside a soft but thick sweet pastry. Very filling and distinctively different from most dim sum I’ve had. Again it’s not the easiest to find halal chicken dim sum in London so it had to be done.
Because it was a cold night I wanted Tom Yum soup too. The soup had mangetout, prawns and crab was not as spicy or flavoursome as I would have liked it still had a nice tangy taste to it. I definitely prefer the Tom Yum soup at Tiger Lily.
For mains I went for the wagyu steak. Wagyu which means ‘Japanese cow’ is beef from cows that are apparently reared so they have less saturated fat and are of higher quality. The cows are often massaged to prevent muscle cramping and are supposed to be grass fed, and topped up with cereals. With all this jazz, the steak carries a hefty price tag- the most expensive on the menu at £119 for a 180g Japanese wagyu sirloin steak.
Because I’d already eaten quite a few starters, I was clever enough to order the 75g sirloin wagyu steak which is less than half the price. The beef was truly mouthwatering and quite literally melted in my mouth. By far the most succulent piece of beef I’ve ever tasted. As the meat came on it’s own just with a soya based sauce, I ordered Singapore noodles. I always love Singapore noodles as there are so many different ingredients in it’s yellow noodles like peppers, spring onions, chicken and prawns. Novikov’s did not fail on delivering this.
My husband ordered the Novikov roasted duck which came in two courses, one with pancakes and the other as a duck salad. I was slightly disappointed with this dish as I usually enjoy the traditional aromatic Peking crispy duck you get at most Chinese restaurants, but this duck’s texture was completely different. It was presented beautifully, cut in squares with the crispy fat sharply cut and arranged on top. The consistency of the duck however was very soft, almost like pate, and definitely not crispy as the fat was separated and positioned on top. I would not order this again, as it’s just not my kind of dish. The duck salad however was really fresh and well-prepared with beansprouts and other vegetables.(photo above)
I was pleased to see Novikov’s assortment of desserts. So many to choose from — we went for the milk chocolate fondant with hazelnut praline and vanilla ice cream and shared it as we were extremely full not (no surprise there). It hit the spot but I found it a tad too sweet.
The service was pretty good, although not sure our waiter understood everything we said and vice versa!
Novikov is a really enticing restaurant, which offers the best of Pan Asian cuisine in a contemporary environment. Prices are high, but Novikov is not pretentious in any way. You are paying for top quality food, in a premium location with captivating ambiance.
Halal status — Lamb, beef, duck, veal and chicken is halal and all the halal dishes have the small Arabic ‘halal’ symbol next to them on the menu. Alcohol and pork also served.
Address: 50A Berkeley Street Mayfair, London W1J 8HA
This post was originally published in 2014, and has been updated since.