Monograph London is a boutique Japanese supper club cooking up a storm in the city. With a secret location in Shoreditch, the club offers a unique and contemporary Japanese dining experience. Head chef Jumpei Kawashima is at the helm and since moving to London in April 2014, he has become one of the capital’s most exciting new foodies…
Jumpei, what sparked your love of food?
I grew up in a family where my mother’s cooking always incorporated simple seasonal ingredients – she never used processed foods. She passed on her passion for cooking while teaching me the basics of Japanese cuisine. It took cookbooks to expand my knowledge until I started working in a small izakaya in Yokohama.
How did you get involved with Monograph London?
I met Ugo Lo Presti, its founder and an Italian chef with a passion for Japanese cooking, a few months back. At the time we had already hosted a few Japanese dinners and he suggested that I join him. And here we are today, running a weekly Japanese supper club which is fully booked most of the time.
Where in Japan are you from?
Yokohama, which is about 30 minutes from central Tokyo.
Do you prefer working for a supper club as opposed to a restaurant space?
It is very different and so for many aspects I would say yes. A supper club offers a more relaxed working environment, free from the pressure of professional kitchens and thus leads to the return of the pleasure of cooking rarely found in restaurants. The quality of the food is also potentially higher, in my opinion. Knowing in advance the number of guests, the courses and their sequence, allows for an efficient and accurate execution. I also like the more intimate relationships with the guests.
What’s your signature dish?
Salmon marinated in saikyo miso for 24 hours, then slow-baked.
What is next for Monograph London?
The next step will probably be a bigger venue given we often have to turn away guests. We will then be working an a possible new supper club format but we can't anticipate anything at the moment.
Which chefs inspire you?
At the moment I would say Kuniharu Takahashi. He runs a small izakaya in south-west Tokyo. I admire his skill in experimenting with new combinations and ingredients.
What’s your favourite London haunt?
It’s so hard to choose! But I do love a cup of green tea at Labi’s in Fulham, and shopping for Japanese ingredients in Rice Wine Shop on Brewer Street, and Japanese books in Denman Street’s JP Books.
What do you miss about Japan?
How would you spend your ideal London weekend?
With the supper clubs on a Friday, Saturday is when I relax and enjoy being the guest rather than the chef. I enjoy exploring the city and experiencing new foods and restaurants. Sunday is more chilled out, when I like nothing better than to read.
What inspires you?
I like to find inspiration through looking at different cultures, which I definitely get the chance to do in London, while understanding more about my own Japanese culture.
View Monograph London on Domus Nova's Food & Drink Guide
Monograph London; monographlondon.com