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June 12, 2024updated Jun 20, 2024

Kioku by Endo: Sky-high Sushi Arrives at The OWO

Restaurant of the Week: Sushi master Endo Kazutoshi injects fresh energy into The OWO dining options.

By Alex Martin

“This has been our quietest night since launch,” the restaurant manager admits with a smile, with just a handful of the 55 covers missing on a drizzly Tuesday night. We are at Kioku by Endo in London, the hot new Japanese restaurant atop the grand Old War Office (OWO) on Whitehall. It is the work of Endo Kazutoshi, a third-generation sushi master and holder of a Michelin star at his other London restaurant, Endo at the Rotunda.

Below us, Raffles London quietly goes about being one of the city’s best hotels. Around us, there is nothing but sky. In this historic part of London, its sixth-floor perch is enough to offer views of Big Ben and the London Eye. Inside, the restaurant serves an East-meets-West fusion, along with the nigiri and sashimi that the restaurant’s culinary director has built his reputation on.

We are in sky-high territory here: the altitude, the quality and the prices. Head to the private dining room, set in one of The OWO’s spectacular James-Bond-starring turrets and you’ll be in one of the most exclusive dining spots in London. It is evidently off to a good start with pre-9pm dinner slots booked until mid-July (bar seating is available for walk-ins, but even these go early). Is the reservation worth the chase? We went to find out.

[See also: Mauro Colagreco Makes His UK Debut at Raffles London]

Kioku interiors
The bar area is reserved for walk ins / ©Carla Barber


We in the West think we know all there is to know about sushi, but Endo Kazutoshi has forgotten things that we haven’t even learned yet. Born in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Endo grew up living and working in his family’s sushi restaurant. His grandfather and father were sushi masters and he was the first-born son, so his destiny was set from birth.

After a tough upbringing in two sushi restaurants in his homeland, Endo moved to London in 2007, bringing one of the first authentic omakase bars to the city at Zuma. As his first experience outside of Japan, Endo had to learn how to adapt his traditional skills to Western tastes. He did so with aplomb, eventually overseeing the sushi offerings across all of Zuma’s restaurants. Somehow, he found time to take the odd shift at the River Cafe – a famous Italian restaurant on the River Thames – to learn more about the Western palate.

After learning to work with the best British produce such as langoustines, scallops and razor clams, he opened Endo at the Rotunda in 2019 and earned his first Michelin star in the next guide. Currently under refurbishment until late summer 2024, the only place to experience Endo’s work at the time of writing is at The OWO.


Kioku is rather different from Endo’s first venture, which is an intimate chef’s table experience. There is sushi, of course, but an a la carte menu also gives us an insight into Endo’s idea of East-meets-West cuisine. The menu is separated into four courses – starters, sushi, middle and main – a nod to his time in that famous Italian restaurant. There is dessert, but with four options priced at a flat £9 ($11.50), it feels like an afterthought (although the mille-feuille was by far the prettiest dish of the night).

The native lobster with fregola / ©Carla Barber

All of the starters blend Japanese ingredients with local techniques, or vice versa. The yellowtail comes with fresh apple; the scallops with radicchio and ponzu, a citrusy dipping sauce from Japan. The yellowtail, which also comes with a sprinkling of caviar and buckwheat, balances sweet and savory, and soft and crunchy, to perfection. The scallop is served raw, a plus for purists, but not the best complement to the bitterness of radicchio.

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Sashimi and nigiri also offer clues to Endo’s embrace of British produce. While the bluefin tuna and yellowtail are there for the traditionalists, the nigiri selection comes with seabream, trout and salmon roe, all sourced from local waters. The soy sauce comes from Endo’s preferred supplier in Japan, one of very few compromises he is unwilling to make. It’s worth the extra mileage.

[See also: Brooklands at The Peninsula is a Restaurant Reaching for Stars]

ravioli dish
Pork ramen ravioli / ©Carla Barber

The middle courses are very Mediterranean: fresh ravioli, fregola from Italy and white asparagus. We go for the ravioli, filled with pork and served ramen style with a delicious jus. The fregola, served with grilled lobster, is equally nice albeit too hearty for a summer menu.

For the main, we stay in Europe. Three fish (monkfish, turbot, sea bass) and three meat (pork, duck, Wagyu beef) make for a short yet extensive selection. There are winners all over, including the generously portioned duck breast served with barley miso and hispi cabbage. The skin could have been crispier, but an empty plate doesn’t leave much recourse for complaints with the kitchen.

On the East and West scale, it’s surprising to see it tilted quite significantly towards the latter. Sushi on top of one of London’s most luxurious hotels is an easy win. Endo offers enough to satisfy the sashimi crowd but has taken calculated risks with the other parts of the menu. The philosophy is consistent and well-executed throughout.

Must try: The chef’s nigiri selection


Sitting on top of The OWO’s roof, the restaurant makes the most of the views with a narrow main dining room with big windows. At Kioku the interiors have been handled by designer Pirajean Lees. The outside terrace, complete with charming views, is available to anyone booked into the restaurant, weather permitting.

Don’t worry if it’s too cold for the terrace as the views are still available inside. Opt for a table on the west side of the restaurant and Big Ben will keep the time for you.

The private dining room in The OWO turret / ©Carla Barber

The best seat in the house is a short walk away in one of the building’s famous turrets: an eight-seat private dining room available to anyone ready to spend £2,500 ($3,200) on their evening. If you’re after a bit more buzz, there is also a chef’s table alongside the kitchen.

On the ground floor, you’ll find an equally charming Kioku Bar, complete with a selection of sakes and Japanese whiskies.

Best seat in the house: The turret room

The Kioku summer terrace / ©Carla Barber

6th Floor, 2 Whitehall Place, The OWO, London, SW1A 2BD,,

[See also: The Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2024]

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