Sumosan Twiga restaurant review: a curiously cordial culinary crossover

Italian meets Japanese at this high-end establishment in Belgravia


We’ve all been there. One of you wants Italian, the other wants Japanese. A stand-off ensues and you end up going out for burgers instead.

But what if you could both have what you desire at a restaurant able to produce two different cuisines to a high standard?

Sumosan Twiga proposes to do just that: serve great Italian food alongside equally good Japanese. Not a fusion of the two, just two separate menus sitting next to one another.

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As we all know though, quantum mechanics demands that two cuisines can’t occupy the same space at the same time. Or can they? The Week Portfolio went along to investigate.

It would be easy to miss Sumosan Twiga if you weren’t explicitly looking for it. The restaurant’s understated entrance sits discreetly between a La Perla lingerie store on one side and an exclusive jewellery boutique on the other.

Once you’re in, you climb a flight or two of stairs, depending on whether you intend to have a pre-meal drink in the breezy bar on the top floor or go straight to the food on the mezzanine level.

Taking on the extra flight is worth the effort – the bar serves up a short but excellently chosen cocktail list. The Midsummer Drop counterbalances the sweetness of a homemade grenadine with lime juice, and comes with a dash of celebratory fizz – champagne, in this reviewer’s opinion, is a welcome addition to most cocktails.

If you aren’t drinking, the mocktails are also good. Too often a mocktail tastes like it was designed for children, but Sumosan Twiga chooses to serve grown-up tasting drinks but without the booze.

Ultimately, the main event is down a level, where the Apennine Peninsula is on a collision course with the Land of the Rising Sun.

What you first notice is the absolute separation here of Church and State. The menu is split down the middle: one side holds the Italian options, the other the Japanese. Perhaps surprisingly, the waiters advise diners to go for a mixture of the two.

We followed that advice and opened with a selection of small plates from the Japanese partition before crossing the border to Italy for our mains.

In doing so, we discovered many highlights on both sides, as the US president might say.

We began with two arms of king crab, each combined with different fillings – one creamy, one spicy. The pick of the two, unexpectedly, was the creamy one, which I thought might overpower the crab. In fact it gave the delicate meat room to express itself.

Next up was the intriguingly titled J’ Secret Mix. The name of the dish is as unassuming as the restaurant’s entrance, but if you go to Sumosan Twiga you must try it. Sashimi of tuna, salmon, sea bass and prawns lie in a pool of citrusy Ponzo sauce and I’m guessing that the dish’s secret is a dash of truffle oil. It’s delicious and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

We also ordered the billionaire rolls, which are quite as rich as their billing: raw Wagyu beef with truffle – spectacularly unctuous, even if it is not the most authentic sushi. But sushi in the West has long since strayed from its traditional roots.

For good measure, and because we’re greedy, we also ordered a bowlful of edamame. Part of our five a day, we told ourselves.

Next it was time for the mains. On the advice of our waiter, we both opted for pasta. My homemade strozzapreti with lamb ragout arrived in a silver dish to be served, with a hint of theatrics, at the table. Did this add anything to the pasta experience? Actually yes. But the pasta also spoke for itself. The strozzapreti were appropriately al dente, while the ragu was thick and meltingly delectable.

I’ve never ordered a Cacio e Pepe outside Rome, for fear of seeing the deceptively complex dish botched. Though it is made from just three ingredients: pecorino, pepper and pasta, it is devilishly difficult to do right. Thankfully, Sumosan Twiga produced a near-perfect rendition. The penne was spot on, and the sauce, derived only from pasta water, a tangy delight with just a dash of heat from the black pepper.

To finish, a fondant arrived under a spun-sugar dome that, once smashed through, revealed a carefully prepared sponge that oozed molten chocolate. It was fitting to end our meal in a comestible no-man’s land: neither Italian, nor Japanese, this superb French dessert is good enough to bring together any warring co-diners who have made the mistake of spending their evening gastronomically apart.

Unexpected as it may seem, Sumosan Twiga genuinely offers the best of both worlds.

Prices from about £50-£60 per person without drinks.

Sumosan Twiga, 165 Sloane St, London SW1X 9QB;

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Arion McNicoll is a freelance writer at The Week Digital and was previously the UK website’s editor. He has also held senior editorial roles at CNN, The Times and The Sunday Times. Along with his writing work, he co-hosts “Today in History with The Retrospectors”, Rethink Audio’s flagship daily podcast, and is a regular panellist (and occasional stand-in host) on “The Week Unwrapped”. He is also a judge for The Publisher Podcast Awards.