Ginza St James’s – Japanese Restaurant, Bury St, London

28th August 2018


In one of London’s finer regions and just a short walk away from Green Park and The Ritz sits one of London’s best Japanese restaurants with what could be stated as an exciting luxurious menu and a bold wine / sake list. Once again, we were pleased to be invited to taste through a selection of the menu whilst pairing with Champagne and also some sparkling sake too at Ginza St James’s on Bury Street, London SW1.

The interior of the downstairs restaurant is very modern Japanese fit style being both spacious yet well designed into an area where you have a choice to dine in front of chefs preparing your food directly in front of you or away from the lively cooking area and within the dining part where your orders are served to you by the neatly dressed serving staff. Wine is a strong theme as you walk through Gonza Onodera with high quality displays chilling a wide selection of fine labels (currently 280 wine labels on the menu and a further 93 sake) – A fine staircase leads you downstairs (with a stairlift for disabled guests).

Our aim is to have the best and widest selection of Sake in London.” Shunpei Yamaguchi (Manager)

The venue excites you and certainly puts you in the mood for dining and exploring fine wines, it is relaxed yet busy with preparing and cooking of food, neatly dressed staff with chefs in their whites crafting their magic with flame grilling, fresh fish slicing and more to capture your attention. Subtle music calms the atmosphere.

Seaweed and Tofu Salad with Creamy Dressing:Sea breeze aromas jump out at you. All three varieties are delicate and nourishing and so do not fear that you are simply going to be tasting a mouthful of salty seawater driven seaweed! The texture is smooth and surprisingly filling, a healthy dish it feels and a perfect starter.

Drappier Carte d’Or Brut Champagne: “Fine toasty and yellow apple on the nose. Touch of dryness, chalk, smooth yellow fruit and faint citrus flavours.”

Pairing:Champagne remains the same in the palate when paired, no compromise to the flavours that shine through easily against the slight flavours of the seaweed.

Spicy Tuna Tartare:Nice balance between the meaty tuna flavours and the sweetness from the Miso sauce. The pine nuts within is a great enhancement to the dish.

Pairing (with the Drappier):Brings out pleasing sweet and spicy flavours. A crisp and snappy pairing tasting experience allows the ripe yellow fruits of the wine to lead. Here the wine and food work well together.

Venison Carpaccio:Rich delicate flavours with a hint of ginger balancing things nicely.

Yauemon Shu Awa Sake Sparkling:Smooth and frizzante style in bubbles. Fine flavours and a cut above many sake.

Pairing:Enhances the flavours of the sake which becomes deeper and smoother, the ginger takes less of a punchy character and a creamy and near sweet smoky taste sensation arrives.

Ume: “Lovely presentation to ensure freshness of each selection.”

Pairing (Yauemon Shu Awa Sake Sparkling):My favourite was the salmon with the sake sparkling. An initial explosion of smooth and creamy sake, then the salmon comes minus any oily flavours. For me, the sake with the other fish was just a touch overpowering in sweeter flavours.

Japanese Wagyu Dumplings:These are a different style of dumpling that they are pan fried initially so that one side has a crispy shell. They are wonderfully delicate and savoury delights, the pan frying holds in all the flavours.

Paritua Pinot Noir 2012:A most tempting nose full of rich summer berry fruit flavours and Cassis. A touch dry and earthy taste yet full of rich berry fruit flavours behind it… A fine, fine Pinot Noir from New Zealand.

Dumplings paired with Pinot Noir 2012:Both the dish and the wine hold wonderful flavours and I think they were battling a little against each other to express themselves.

Black Angus Beef:Subtle flame grilled flavours, delicate and tender meat.

Meerlust Rubicon 2014:Plum, dark cherry and dark glazed fruits on the nose. Flavours are fine and showcasing delicate woody, blackberries in flavours.

Pairing:A fine pairing that brings out the dry flavours from the wine along with herbal hints.

Scottish Salmon Teriyaki:Wonderful presentation. Such a great balance between the rich fresh flavours of the salmon and the sweet teriyaki sauce – Smoky hints thanks to the grilling over the specially brought in Japanese coal for cooking over chez Ginza Onodera.

Albert Mann Gewürztraminer 2013:Touch tropical and lime zest on the nose. Sweeter tasting, not overboard, smooth and near creamy green fruits and apricot flavours.

Pairing:Concentrates the palate on the rich smooth sweet flavours that they both hold. The wine helps to refresh the palate.


Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.