Travel and food writer Baldwin Ho explores the delights of Armenian cuisine at Lusin, Mayfair
London is further cementing its status as the gastronomic centre of Europe with the recent opening of Lusin. It's a fine dining establishment in the heart of Mayfair with a menu curated by a 2-Michelin-starred chef. Most people would probably struggle to name an Armenian restaurant to visit in London, but Lusin is about the change that. Designed by Riyadh-based architect and interior designer Marram Sediq, the restaurant is elegant and classy in design. You might not appreciate that their walls are made from Armenian tuff stones.
The key question: is the food any good? It's not good, it's exceptional. They use the very best ingredients (and it is priced accordingly). We could tell immediately from our first few courses of salad and cold appetisers. The diced vegetables from the fatoush were as crunchy as if they were just picked from the farm. The authentic Armenian itch is deceptively simple to make using just bulgur, Levant mixed vegetables and confit tomato but would you be able to source such ingredients at home? The bulgur had a chewy nuttiness whilst the confit tomato was bursting with sweetness. You suspect the kitchen team doesn't shop for their produce from Tesco express.
You'll find bulgur and pomegranate a regular theme in Armenian cuisine. Both are present in their signature, Lusin Kibbeh which is a dish consisting of bulgur, meat and pomegranate. The kibbehs I've tried before can sometimes be on the dry side, but this is moist and has an appetising crumbly texture. Do also try their sujuc rolls, which are bread rolled in Armenian spices. It tastes rather festive and is the ideal treat this holiday season.
Talking of comforting food for the current season, they have numerous hearty dishes for their main courses. Lamb gigot is one of those giant hugs-on-a-plate dishes consisting of a warming, braised lamb shank, aromatic rice, nuts and pumpkin puree. The server will help dissect the meat for you, but that is hardly a necessity given how the meat falls off the bone with minimal pressure.
Kebabs are a focal point on their menu and none more so than their famous cherry kebab. The lamb skewers are invitingly charcoaled yet still juicy and succulent. It is topped with their signature homemade cherry sauce to give the dish a welcoming sweetness that contrasts with the savoury flavours of the meat. The cherries have been picked in Armenia no less, meaning this dish would be extremely hard to replicate in your own home. I rarely mention sides in my reviews, but their spicy potato is a must-order. Perfectly crispy on the outside and wonderfully soft on the inside, this is simplicity at its finest. And it is all topped with their signature spicy sauce.
We were far too full to explore their lengthy dessert menu but we couldn't resist a few scoops of their homemade rose-flavoured ice cream. Even for something as simple as ice cream, it's innovatively presented underneath a cloud of candy cotton. It was the perfect way to end our first Armenian dining experience in London.
Their claim to fame is their restaurant first launched in Riyadh in 2011 and has been visited by members of the Saudi royal family and the late Kofi Annan. Expect plenty of celebrities and politicians to be visiting the London branch soon. Bookings are highly recommended. Lusin means "moon" in Armenian and this restaurant is destined to shine brightly on the London dining scene.
An intrepid adventurer and foodie, Baldwin is always on the lookout for latest trends on the culinary scene as well as pushing himself out of his comfort zone in trying out new activities. He has a particularly keen interest in food and travel photography.