Endo at the Rotunda starts exactly where you never want to end up: Westfield White City. It’s eight floors up a tower in the ex-BBC Television Centre, and the intimate 10 or so-seat omakase extravaganza is semi-lit by the glow of every Londoner’s most recurring Christmas nightmare.
Although this reads like a bad thing, it’s actually a very good one. Not because you can pop into M&S for something elasticated after your £250, 20-course dinner that spans the best miso soup you’ll ever slurp to a sticky rice pudding soufflé that somehow mixes primary and finishing school. But because it acts as a reminder that while so much money is pissed away on not very worthwhile things, the sizeable sum you’ll spend here most definitely isn’t.
The restaurant itself is a simply arranged set. The performance that you’ll be treated to behind its L-shaped wooden counter isn’t. Acts I, II, and all thereafter are about Endo. The head chef and headliner wields his sushi knife like a Fender and shreds tuna after tuna into the finest solo pieces of nigiri, before he, or a member of his backing band, places each individual banger from their hand into the palm of yours. It’s an all-engrossing but never attention seeking show of sophistication, rather than, say, Salt Bae.
This hand-to-hand eating style is encouraged, and is a far more enjoyable high-end restaurant instruction than learning a turnip’s genealogy or curtsying to a slice of ham. From Cornish squid, to Tokyo oyster, to Spanish otoro nigiri, you’ll find yourself slowly, carefully, deliberately, savouring... Every. Last. Bite.
So much of Endo at the Rotunda is built on expectations. It starts with the anticipation of the lift ride up, and this only increases when everyone around you is handed a piece of langoustine nigiri with caviar, before moaning like a Golden Raspberry nominee, as you wait, twitchily, for your turn. This leaves you feeling more Oliver Twist than anything else. Because there will be moments where you wonder, palm ready, whether maybe, you’ll be given more.
Only, wanting more isn’t the point. Every person, be it at lunch or dinner, gets their money’s worth. Not just in breathtaking food, but in seemingly undivided attention. When you are able to lock eyes and chat to the masters behind the counter, you’ll feel less like a guest and more like a groupie.
Because really, Endo at the Rotunda is a meal, a performance, and a one man show all rolled—between two skilled hands with a dab of wasabi, a wipe of soy, and sprinkle of yuzu—into one.
The bulk of the omakase menu is made up of various forms of nigiri, and you’ll find it nigh on impossible to decide which one you like best. Does the sweet meltiness of the Tokyo-style steamed oyster come out on top? Or is it the butter-like six-day-aged otoro? It’s hard to say. And it doesn’t really matter. From the Cornish squid, to the Scottish langoustine, to the Irish oyster, bought the morning you eat, they’re all fantastic. Sushi aside, there's monkfish and mushroom tempura, clams so buttery you'll happily keel over there and then, as well as a plate of wagyu beef direct from Miyazaki, Japan.
And all of it is bowl-drinkingly and plate-lickingly fantastic. Seriously, don't hold back. This is a waste not, want not, show your enjoyment as much as you want environment. That's why Endo at the Rotunda is one of the best meals you can spend your money on in London.