The draw of London’s West End is irresistible, no matter whether you’re new to the city, or lived here all your life. Crowds aside, the unrivalled shopping, sparkling shows, and a diverse dining scene are all conveniently in one place, and established shops, theatres and restaurants sit side by side with newer outlets. The Yards Covent Garden is an urban oasis that prides itself on offering more unique and independent brands, one of which is Pan Asian restaurant Gura Gura – I gave it a try on a bustling Thursday evening and there was plenty to review.
Although launched very recently in January 2023, two-floor eatery Gura Gura was already packed when I visited just a month after its opening. The buzz of chatter from groups of friends and a few dates ruminated through the eatery, and it felt more like a bar than traditional restaurant; this was highlighted further by the very impressive bar that spanned half the upstairs area. If you’ve ever gone for a drink with your friends, and felt that all that was missing was good food, then your dreams will be answered here. Gura Gura spotlights traditional flavours from Japan, Thailand and China in a modern way, and has a fresh-that-day sushi bar next to the upstairs drinks offering.
Our Gura Gura review
Experienced restaurateur Gobind Chona leads the charge at Gura Gura, bringing his international expertise to London. Chona said: “This is my first restaurant in the UK and I am so pleased to see our vision of a fun and accessible pan-Asian eatery come to life.” And a vision it quite literally is: the restaurant’s interiors take inspiration from the myriad of countries highlighted on the menu, using bright colours and bold curios, plus plenty of foliage, to make a statement on both floors. My favourite attribute was the changing lights on each table; to get the attention of staff, simply tap your lamp to a brighter white and someone will come over.
I was seated upstairs on our visit, something I was particularly pleased about as I eyed up the sushi bar in the back corner. The fresh sushi is made by hand on site, with nigiri and sashimi platters available, plus made-to-order uramaki rolls. I opted for the dragon roll, with tempura prawn, avocado, cucumber and kabayaki sauce. The serving was huge – though that didn’t stop me from inhaling all the rolls in about four minutes as a testament to its tastiness – and the flavours were harmonious. Sweet sauce on the savoury rolls, each with an initial soft bite, then light crunch of the tempura. I would have happily had two more platefuls.
The Pan-Asian influence is most evident in the small and large plates, with a range of classic and fusion dishes available. Personally, I felt the creme de la creme of these dishes was the grilled lamb racks, served with pear apple slaw. Firstly, the presentation was *chef’s kiss*: the lamb racks were stacked delicately, shimmering with seasoned juices and donning edible flowers atop. Secondly, it tasted just as juicy, tender and flavoursome as it looked.
Gura Gura’s cocktail game is strong. The team specifically use many of the same ingredients they use in their dishes to make a unique, seasonally changing menu of cocktails. I tried two cocktails: the enigmatically named Sour #1 and Sweet #3. The former was my favourite. Sour #1 arrives with a mystical bubble atop the glass that, in a few moments, vanishes into thin air. What’s left behind is a smooth honey, lemon, bitters and gin concoction.
The cocktail menu has a dedicated section of negronis and old fashioneds, combining global flavours with the traditional recipes. In future, the Gura Gura team will have their very own bespoke gin and vodka, created in partnership with UK spirits brand Diistil, which will up their drinks game even more.
My overall review of Gura Gura is that it is a great place to go if you’re after a buzzy atmosphere, but want to fill your stomach too; bog standard bar snacks this ain’t. Prices are on point for London, and it’s clear a lot of love has gone into the drinks and sushi bar. If you work in London’s West End, be sure to check it out on your next Thirsty Thursday (or at any other point, really).