Yakitori is flying high at this unpretentious, but finely tuned Marylebone restaurant

Yakitori literally means grilled bird, and in Japan it’s a very popular casual dining dish. Almost every part of the chicken is reduced to bite sized pieces and elegantly threaded onto skewers.

Omakase means “I’ll leave it to you”, i.e. let the chef choose, and so we did, seated comfortably on stools in front of the chef’s charcoal grill at the far end of this pared back, small but uncramped, stylish 36 seat restaurant.

Chef Patron Aman Lakhiani trained at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Sushi Academy and worked at Michelin- starred Japanese restaurant Dos Palillos in Barcelona and it shows.

Charcoal is key to the cooking at Junsei and it can’t just be any old charcoal bought from B&Q either.  Binchōtan oak charcoal, often called white charcoal, and which dates back to the Edo period, is crucial.

However a very similar and more readily available charcoal called Oga-tan can also be used, as it is here. The former takes the natural shape of the wood, while the latter is a compressed charcoal tube usually with a hole through the centre to make it burn evenly.

It burns very hot and with no odour, which is important as the skewers of meat and vegetables are only inches away from the heat and must cook quickly. It’s this fierce heat that rapidly seals the food, creating the important flavour and retaining moisture.

So, physics lesson over, and our breezy Californian ‘yakitoriya’ Zak was more than happy to talk wood while fanning his grill, we sit back (or upright as we were on stools) and let the  tail to beak eating show begin.

A palate cleanser of daikon/mooli (white radish) and cucumber,all lightly dressed in soy, is crisp and refreshing, readying us for the first dish. A spoon of silken tofu with ginger, negi (similar to spring onion, but sweeter), seasoned soy, is a ‘one bite and it’s gone’ dish, a minimalist palette of marvellous flavour and texture.

So bring on the bird. Junsei buys the very best organic, slow-reared, chickens from Suffolk and little goes to waste. They will include offal in your selection, but you’re told in advance and can chicken out if you want. I turn down their offer of chicken heart – Hatsu – on a skewer, as well as Sunagimo – gizzards – but happily have Reba – chicken livers.

Soft and melting, and kissed lovingly by the fire, these are gamey, rich and superb.  If you’re not offaly fond of the more grisly bits, try these as a first toe in the ‘funny meat’ water.

Shiso Make with ume, chicken breast wrapped in shiso leaf, grilled and dabbed with sour plum sauce, showed that whilst chicken breast is usually the least interesting part of the bird, it can be truly delicious when treated right.

Momo – Chicken thigh with tare, Tebasaki – Chicken wing, and chicken oysters ( the best bit and highly sought after) all come hot off the grill and, in between courses, another palate cleanser of grated mooli with soy. 

Whole shiitake mushrooms provide a break from chicken, as does okra grilled and dressed with shoyu and flakes of smoked tuna. These flakes are superb and so fine they dance in the residual heat coming off from the okra. This latter is a revelation, the grilling actually making a usually rather gloopy vegetable supremely tasty.

Sliced Hamachi Crudo with Fig Vinaigrette as a ‘main’ is supremely delicate. The only non-yakitori dish I don’t like is the Grilled BellFish with Ponzu dressing and rice, the fish is too powerfully fishy for me.

The final savoury dish is a showstopper, a donburi dish called Soboro Don – minced chicken, spring onions, chicken skin and tare sauce on a stick and served with a raw egg and soy. A savoury lollipop to really savour.

Of course some dessert was needed, so after a palate cleanser of Gooseberry Granita with sweet whipped tofu and blackcurrant we had Kuramitsu (Japanese brown sugar) ice cream with grilled grapes, gooseberries and puffed rice.

We washed it down with excellent cocktails and a flask of sake.

Junsei is off the beaten track a bit, but with food this accomplished it’s well worth beating a path to.

132 Seymour Place, London W1H 1NS