19-21 Blandford Street,
London W1U 3DH
Chef Ravinder Bhogal
October 2016

Jikoni, meaning ‘kitchen’ in Swahili, is the first offering by Gordon Ramsay protégé, Ravinder Bhogal. It styles itself as a homely homage to the mother figure, serving up “fusion” dishes that mostly come down to twists on European dishes (scotch eggs, croquetas and fish pie all get the treatment).

When we visited, the restaurant was buzzing (in fact quite literally at times with the fire alarm going off sporadically!) Despite the interruptions, the atmosphere was still fantastic and served as a palpable draw into the restaurant. The food, meanwhile, was delicious, but sometimes muddled or poorly executed. Mixing this all in with the price means it’s worth a try, but – personally – we’re not in a rush to go back.

Food: 7/10

Curried Pork Scotch Quail Egg, Date & Tamarind Chutney, Carrot Achaar
The undisputed highlight of the meal. This was simply delicious. On its own, the scotch egg was fantastic, but add in a thick caramel chutney that complements the pork perfectly and you have something special. The pickled carrot, flavour-wise, did not add much too the dish, but as a palate cleanser to truly savour the dish, it worked perfectly.

Cauliflower Popcorn, Chilli, Spring Onion, Garlic
I’m not sure why Jikoni called this dish popcorn when tempura would have been more appropriate. This is a classic more-ish flavour combination that tastes delicious. My only gripe was in the delivery; the chilli, spring onion and garlic needed to be eaten with a fork, creating dissonance with the cauliflower and dipping sauce, which were set up as finger food.

Mackerel Rojak, Green Mango, Macadamia and Snake Bean Salad, Pineapple and Chilli
Not a particularly memorable dish with the salad trying to cram in loads of flavours and coming out confused. On top of this, the mackerel was under-seasoned and didn’t gel with the rest of the plate.

Arabian Nights Poussin, Heritage Tomato & Lavash Salad, Sumac
Posh Nando’s, anyone? The main focus of this dish was the poussin, which was juicy, flavourful, and dry-rubbed with a delicious spice combination. The only problem was a lack of quality control; the dry rub was so thick in places that it was akin to eating a teaspoon of salt.

Caramel Chips
So, it turns out that these were cinnamon caramel chips and, surprisingly, they worked pretty well. The caramel was not too sweet and served as a nice complement to the spices in the Arabian Nights poussin.

Jikoni Trifle – Coconut Sponge, Mango Jelly, Tapioca, Passionfruit Cream
A very tropical dessert that delivered exactly what it said on the tin. Texture-wise the addition of tapioca saved it from being boring. I think what impedes this from being special was that the base flavours were identifiably British – for example the coconut wasn’t the complex, rich flavour of the fresh fruit off a tree in Thailand, but rather the slightly insipid flavour of something shop-bought.

Service: 7/10

Though enthusiastic, the service was – at times – frenetic.

Price: Expensive

It would be easy to spend £30 a head on food and leave unsated.

Price: 7/10

In conclusion: I left with the impression that I had seen the limit of what Jikoni is currently capable of, which is sad as there is plenty of untapped potential. As it is now, it will be an “it’s a bit pricey but you should check it out” recommendation.

Curried Pork Scotch Quail Egg, Date & Tamarind Chutney, Carrot Achaar
So good it deserves a close-up
Tempura, or, what Jikoni likes to call “popcorn”
Arabian Nights Poussin
Mackerel Rojak
Caramel Chips
Another dish deserved of a close-up
Jikoni Trifle for dessert

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