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The restaurant, situated on Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia, London, is owned by Jun Tanaka and headed up by chef Andy Hall. In October last year, it was awarded a Michelin star after only a year in operation.
And it's no surprise, considering Tanaka's background working at top establishments such as Restaurant Marco Pierre White, where Pierre White taught him classic French cuisine; the Capital with Eric Chavot; Le Gavroche under the Roux brothers; and the Square with Phil Howard.
Tanaka was born in America and raised in both Tokyo and England, and he began his career as a chef at the age of 19 on a hotel management and catering course. Given his background, many would expect his menu to be predominantly focused on French cuisine; however, he offers a fusion of French and Mediterranean-style dishes, all meant to be shared.
The dinner menu is wide-ranging and exciting. It offers a range of snacks, including truffle arancini, oxtail croquettes, barbajuans (a type of stuffed fritter), and freshly baked pitta bread. There's salads and hot starters, including caramelised scallops, langoustine ravioli with fennel and rabbit confit lasagna; and raw and cured options, including sea bass carpaccio, salsa verde and pickled kohlrabi, salted beef cheek with wasabi and pickled radish, and Carlingford oysters. There's a range of fish dishes, including sea bass baked in a basil salt crust, roast lemon sole with langoustine vinaigrette and chargrilled seabream, along with three meat dishes: roast quail, grilled veal chop and lamb en croute.
Vegetarians are catered for with seven options, including chargrilled Hispi cabbage and pickled artichokes; and there are four desserts, including that pain perdu with vanilla ice-cream and caramelised lemon tart.
Tanaka serves 800-850 covers a night in the 74-cover restaurant with 12 chefs (six on any given service) and 9-10 floor staff. "It's the first year of opening and it has been very stressful and not easy at all,"
Tanaka told The Caterer earlier this year. "There is always something you can improve and my focus is 100% on this restaurant, but I can genuinely say that it's a happy kitchen, and I'm happy where I am at the moment."
The judges commented on the "ambitious, wide-ranging menu" which is "beautifully executed, well-priced and right on the button", alongside the "clever mix of ingredients and different styles of cuisine".
The Ninth may be the ninth place that Tanaka has worked in, but it's his first solo restaurant - and one where he can be proud to be called the boss.
What the judges said
"A modern twist on classic techniques. A hard-working kitchen and a wide menu, playing to a full house. Top of his game."
"Jun Tanaka's menu at the Ninth really impressed me for the great way it marries classical roots with lighter, interesting Mediterranean ingredients and techniques. It's refreshing to see a good choice of exciting, reasonably priced options on a menu at a restaurant of this calibre in the capital."
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