Born in NYC to Japanese parents but raised in England and educated in some of the best classical French kitchens in London (Le Gavroche, Les Saveurs, Chavot), Jun Tanaka certainly has a rich background from which to draw culinary inspiration. His first solo restaurant The Ninth in Fitzrovia (so called because it’s the ninth establishment Tanaka has worked in) has been praised for its ingenious menu of French/Mediterranean sharing dishes by Harden’s reporters, Michelin (he received a star this year) and at the Cateys – picking up the gong for Menu of the Year in 2016.
So Harden’s is very excited to announce that its new events series Harden’s invites will alight at The Ninth on Thursday 16 November for an intimate dinner, hosted by Jun and guide co-founder Peter Harden. The dinner will be a banqueting-style event for just 20 guests in the stunning private dining room – so make sure you book your place quickly, tickets go on sale tomorrow (17 October). The five course menu will be served with carefully paired wines and all the dishes are designed to share, with the exception of Jun’s now famous oxtail croquettes (beloved by Jay Rayner and Grace Dent). See the full menu below.
Jun says: “My cooking is all about what I like to eat myself. These are dishes I would cook at home for friends and family. Of course my cooking has been hugely influenced by some of the great chefs I have worked for, but being raised by Japanese parents I do like my food to have a certain lightness, lighter than classic French cooking. And yes, you could say that everyone is doing sharing dishes at the moment, but for me it’s not about following a trend. I grew up with one or two or three dishes in the middle of the table that everyone dug into, so that’s still the way I like to eat at home and I’ve brought that into my kitchen at work.”
The launch of The Ninth in 2015 was the realisation of a long-held dream for Jun, who had always hoped to open his own restaurant. But the road was not always an easy one. Jun left his position as executive chef at Pearl in 2012 and it took three years to open The Ninth.
“It was much harder than I thought it would be,” Jun says. “Finding the right premises in the right location was probably one of the most difficult parts. I think I saw 100 properties before I found the right place. I looked in Shoreditch, in Bermondsey, in central London. Honestly there were times when I just thought; ‘No more! I can’t see any more properties’. I was almost tempted to say; ‘Oh that will do’, and just take somewhere, but that would have been a mistake. The worst thing you can do is act out of desperation. And my patience was rewarded. Fitzrovia was my number one choice and after two years I found the ideal property on Charlotte Street – arguably the best street in the area.
“After my experience of property hunting in London it’s easy to see why many restaurants are opening up outside of centre. Rates and rents are getting more and more unrealistic and pushing businesses out to zones two, three, four etc, particularly east London. Finding a business partner and investment by comparison was much easier.”
Jun adds: “Opening The Ninth was about all about giving people a good value, neighbourhood restaurant. The kind of place where diners could drop in to if they just didn’t fancy cooking that night, or on the other hand come and have a five course meal.”
Harden’s invites you to dinner with Jun Tanaka at The Ninth takes place on Thursday 16 November. Tickets are £95pp. To book your place please call 020 7839 4763 or contact Tracy Hall on email@example.com. Booking lines open Mon-Fri, 9.30 am-5.30 pm. Payment will be taken in full upon booking. Please provide any dietary requirements. Tickets are non-refundable but are transferable.
Champagne Canard Duchene, Cuvee Leonie Brut
Freshly baked pita, oregano and salt
Flamed mackerel, cucumber and sea vegetables
Viogier 974, Chateau Pesquie, Ventoux
Chargrilled whole sea bream, lemon confit and miso
Viognier 974, Chateau Pesquie, Ventoux
Venison in salt crust, Cavolo nero and beetroot
Petalos, Descendientes de J Palacios, Bierzo
Tart Tatin, rosemary ice cream
Tokaji Noble Late Harvest Furmint, Oremus