Raffles Hotel, 57 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2BX, United Kingdom

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Kioku is a restaurant on the sixth floor of the OWO Hotel, run by Endo Kazutoshi. It opened in May 2024, serving a fusion of Japanese and Italian food. The smartly decorated dining room looks out over the Whitehall rooftops, with an open kitchen on display to the diners. The OWO hotel itself is in the historic 1906 Whitehall building that housed The War Office, a massive complex with over a thousand rooms. Its many occupants included the office of the Secret Intelligence Service, run by Mansfield Cummings, who was the model for “M” in Ian Fleming’s James Bond books. Fleming himself worked in the building as a naval intelligence officer. Winston Churchill had offices here, as did T.E. Lawrence, who was immortalised in the David Lean film “Lawrence of Arabia”. The building now houses the 120-room Raffles Hotel and 85 private residences, the hotel opening in September 2023. It is fair to say that money was no object in the fit-out, the hotel refurbishment apparently costing $1.8 billion. Kioku is one of nine restaurants in the hotel. There was an a la carte menu, with a tasting menu available at £130. 

The wine list had 251 labels and ranged in price from £55 to £1,100, with a median price of £135 and an average markup to retail price of 3.7 times, which is going some, even for Raffles. Sample references were Finado Cantina Andriano Val d'Adige 2022 at £56 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £18, Albahr Envinate Almansa 2022 at £79 compared to its retail price of £26, and Protero Nebbiolo Adelaide Hills 2021 at £88 for a wine that will set you back £32 in the high street. For those with the means there was Antinori Tignanello 2018 at £390 compared to its retail price of £156, and Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru VV Dominique Laurent 2012 at £630 for a wine whose current market value is £224. The list was ordered in a somewhat unusual way, split notionally by grape variety but also with sections like “coastal” and “high altitude” rather than by country. It drew from a wide range of wine-growing regions, so there were wines from Serbia, Japan, China, Croatia, Luxembourg, Armenia, Romania and Georgia, though New Zealand was oddly absent from the roll call. Just 27% of the list was French, an unusually low proportion in a London restaurant, and 23 countries were represented on the wine list. There was also a very large sake list available.

Sushi was £7 - £15 a piece. I tried scallop and akami sushi, which were both good. The sushi rice was at the correct room temperature rather than the fridge-cold versions that plague some quite expensive London restaurants, and was nicely vinegared. The toppings were high quality, the Portuguese tuna was silky in texture and the scallop had pleasing natural sweetness (15/20).

Fregola pasta (£28) came with lobster and shiso (perilla) oil with a little sansho pepper. This was genuinely good, the Sardinian pasta having excellent texture and the lobster being tender. There was a very subtle bite of spice from the sansho pepper (maybe more would have been useful) and the herbaceous, slightly bitter taste of the shiso went well as a counterbalance to the natural sweetness of the shellfish (16/20).

For the main course I had pork loin (£24) with tonkatsu sauce, sweet potato and kimchi. This was really good, the pork loin completely avoiding the dryness that so often afflicts this dish. The sauce appeared to be made with mirin, tomato ketchup and soy and worked nicely with the pork, while the vegetables were cooked carefully (easily 15/20). 

Desserts were all priced at £9 and between us we tried all four on offer. I had the strawberry millefeuille with pink pepper and this had quite delicate puff pastry, nicely ripe strawberries and a controlled gentle bite of pepper, which worked quite well (15/20). Just to give an idea of what was on offer, the other desserts were as follows: twig tea crème brulee with cream cheese ice cream and soy tuile, amazake custard tart with peach, rokko miso baba with hazelnut ice cream and nutmeg. Coffee was from Kiss The Hippo, a speciality roaster, and was good – albeit £4.50 for a double espresso.

Service was extremely good, and we had a particularly charming and enthusiastic waiter called Winston. The bill came to £214 per person for four courses and with plenty of wine. If you ordered two savoury courses and dessert and shared a modest bottle of wine then a more typical bill might come to around £100 per person or so. Kioku was already packed out just days after opening, and doubtless, it will continue to prosper.


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User comments

  • Heather Martin

    Had already booked to go here in August. Glad it seems to be a sensible decision before booking gets as tough as at Endo...

  • Jla

    The Raffles has definitely an interesting galaxy of restaurants Calagreco is also a very interesting one with an exemplary service and a beautiful room I like it much better than the original Mirazur in Menton