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MJU Sloane Street SW1

Clifford Mould tried the Menu Degustation

First of all a few bits of corrective information: MJU is not a Japanese restaurant, although there are certainly far Eastern and Japanese influences at work. Also it has nothing to do with the Olympus Camera of same name. And it's not really an hotel restaurant either, in spite of its location within the Millennium Hotel on Sloane Street. Many hotel restaurants have been taken over by chefs under their own names, one thinks of Gordon Ramsey at Claridge's, and most recently Brian Turner at the Millennium Hotel on Grosvenor Square. MJU (pronounced mew, like a kitten does) was the brainchild of the Japanese-Australian chef Tetsuya Wakuda. The chef now, is Chris Behre, who has worked with Alisoun Stewart formerly of the Raymond Blanc group; between them they have tweaked up the menus and together with Australian sommelier Michaela Clayton have produced a magnificent wine list which celebrates the many glories of the Oz wine making scene. The dining space is quiet but luxurious, with some very beautiful Shoji miniatures on one of the walls and with a glass walled enoteca to show off the wines.

At lunch time there's a menu du jour (two courses for £19.95, or £24.95 for three) which includes wine selected by the sommelier. The very popular dinner degustation menu which also includes matching wines, means that there is no shortage of smashing wines by the glass.  There's also a lunch mezze, whose star dish is the Mju plate consisting of a selection of Mju morsels to share (£15).

Morsels was a word also in my mind, as we couldn't resist trying the evening Menu Degustation, with its seven wines accompanying each course. Each course was made up of smaller, separate but complementing morsels, so the whole thing was a sort of gastronomic procession. To enjoy it fully, you need time, so start early. We arrived not long after 7pm, and didn't leave until after 11pm. Also, to take a party of six enthusiastic foodies would be even more fun, with everyone comparing notes, enjoying the rich variety of flavours and textures without having to raid one another's plates!

The feast began with an amuse gueule, and then some very plump oysters in a wonderful  ginger and citrus dressing, accompanied by Proseco de Crede whose clean sparkle was a wake up call to the palate and the exertions ahead. All the dishes came on a motley array of interesting shaped ceramics - next was a diagonal of three fishy concoctions, tartare of tuna, grilled barbecued eel and white crab salad. We were advised to begin with the delicate raw tuna, progress to the richly caramelised eel, then clear the palate with the fresh sea crab. An intense Chablis from Domaine Sainte Clair kept the taste buds tingling.

Next a duo of scallops in breadcrumbs, slit open and stuffed with a sliver of foie gras. I have friends who would have preferred a wedge of the foie gras or a half dozen of the scallops or both, but they could get them off the a la carte menu - we were here for the procession. The other half of the duo was a ceviche of langoustine and john dory and this course was washed down with a fabulous Alsatian Pinot Gris from Trimbach, which rolled extravagantly around the mouth. 

Then a succession of three starter sized main dishes, served separately: first some tender pieces of lobster on vermicelli with a vibrant shellfish reduction, with Tyrell's Old Winery Semillon Chardonnay, then glazed duck breast with a bite sized chunk of foie gras. Flavours of soy, cinnamon and pumpkin came through making an arresting partnership with a Beaujolais Cru, a fruity Fleurie from La Bouroniere.  The baritone of the  trio was braised rabbit, slow cooked with spring veg and served with roasted baby beetroot, and paired with Schiopettino, Friuli Venezio Giuila, whose dark cherry bite cut the richness of the meat admirably. What a brilliant counterpoint between kitchen and cellar!

 But we were not quite finished. After a refreshing sorbet, a white chocolate and saffron pannacotta with rhubarb confit was served and with this, a refreshing glass of demi-sec Vueve-Clicquot white label. A heavy sauternes would have been over the top after such a meal, but off dry champers is both settling and mind clearing. 

Now I realise that such a meal is not everyone's idea of a satisfying nosh, coitus interruptus of the stomach, I've heard it described. But I loved it, and those who want fuller platefuls have a very interesting looking a la carte menu to choose from, and you may browse it now by following the link  below. Service was top notch, as it would have to be, otherwise such an elaborate meal would be a total disaster.  This one was a gourmet's delight.

Dinner degustation menu £55 per person, or £85 with all those wines. 
A la carte menu priced from £30 for three courses (see menu)

Clifford Mould  May 2003

Mju at the Millennium Hotel, 17 Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, London SW1
Tel: 020 7201 6330

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

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