Tokii is a Japanese restaurant at the five-star Prince Akatoki Hotel (formerly “The Arch”) in Marble Arch, which became owned by a Japanese hotel group called Prince Hotels in mid 2019. Akatoki means sunrise in Japanese, and the name of the restaurant is derived from the second part of the hotel name. Toki on its own (時) means “when” in Japanese. The Tokii restaurant itself opened in September 2019. As usual in London, the restaurant does not focus just on one style of Japanese food: here you will find sushi, sashimi, tempura and robata grilled dishes. In Tokyo things are so specialised that there are restaurants that serve, for example, only eel. Indeed the style at Tokii is not pure Japanese, so for comparison think of places like Roka and Zuma in style. The head chef is Gary Durrant, who is classically trained at The Savoy and Claridges, and was head chef at the restaurant here before the Japanese takeover, a place called Hunter 486. When the hotel changed hands, some chefs were sent over from Japan to train the team here in Japanese cooking. Starters cost around £9, mains average around the £14 mark and desserts £8, so the pricing is quite fair. You could also opt for a tasting menu at £55.
The wine list had 86 labels and ranged in price from £26 to £706, with a median price of £81 and an average markup to retail price of around 2.7 times. Sample references were Scotto Cellars Pinot Grace Bridge 2016 at £37 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £13, Adelina Syrah Mataro 2017 at £57 compared to its retail price of £16, and Stolpman Vineyards Estate Rousanne 2017 at £70 for a wine that will set you back £26 in the high street. For those with the means there was the excellent Leoville Las Cases 2004 at £256 compared to its retail price of £161, and Francoises Berthau Chambolle Musigny Amoreuses 2011 at a very fair £410 for a wine whose current market value is £610 if you could find it. The markup levels here were very fair by London standards. In Japan, although wine is making inroads, beer or sake is the norm with a meal. It seemed odd that there was only one lager style beer available, and that from a local micro brewery, with no Japanese beers listed. There was at least a decent set of sake, and I enjoyed the daiginjo genshu that was listed.
Some salted edamame beans appeared as a nibble. We tried some fried quail egg with mustard mayonnaise, which had suitably crisp exterior and nicely made mayonnaise with a pleasing bite of mustard (14/20). Even better was tempura of prawn with a dipping sauce of ginger and daikon dashi. Often in the UK it is a risky thing to order tempura, with many versions having overly thick, oily batter. Not here, where the batter was light and clean and the prawns carefully cooked (15/20).
Sushi of akami (lean) tuna was quite good too. The rice was room temperature (the ideal is body temperature) rather than the fridge-cold specimens that often appear in London, and the tuna itself had pleasingly velvety texture. It would have been nice to see real wasabi, but at least the pickled ginger was good (13/20).Tuna tartare with avocado, miso and little lotus root crisps was very good, with some fattier tuna mixed in, the avocado ripe and the beetroot matchsticks nicely crisp; the lotus root crisps were a little uneven in texture but this was a nicely balanced dish (14/20).
Grilled aubergine with chilli, spring onion and ginger miso was cooked on the robata grill. It is hard to get excited about aubergine, at least apart from some exceptional specimens in Japan, but this was correctly cooked and a hint of smokiness from the robata grill (13/20). Black cod, which is a marketing term for sablefish, had suitably buttery texture, though I would have liked a bit more miso flavour. This was garnished with caramelised onion, thin strips of fried beetroot and also lotus root crisps, along with grilled Padron pepper and a red chilli. The latter was a clever choice, adding some uncompromising bite to cut through the richness of the sablefish, and worked nicely with the sweet onion (14/20). On the side, tenderstem broccoli was superbly cooked, having excellent flavour (15/20).
For dessert, yuzu crème brulee was nicely made, with a crisp and light topping and custard nicely flavoured with the citrus of the yuzu (14/20). Chocolate fondant came with peanut brittle, salted caramel and coconut milk ice cream. This even better, the fondant having a proper liquid centre and being comfortingly rich, the ice cream a good balance for it (15/20). Coffee was Illy.
Service was well meaning though a little erratic, with our Sardinian waitress being pleasant but having rather limited English, and with some moments in the service where it was hard to get the attention of waiting staff. The bill came to £121 per person, though that was with cocktails and plenty of good quality sake. If you had three courses and shared a modest bottle of wine from the list then a typical cost per person might be nearer £55, which is very fair given the good standard of cooking. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Tokii, whose food was very capable from start to finish. It may not suit a Japanese food purist but the menu was appealing to me and the skill level in the kitchen was quite high throughout the meal.