Japanese dining in London has taken effect in the form of trendy casual eateries and informal drinking holes. Finally izakaya has taken our capital city by storm and if you don’t know what that is, simply pull up a pew and grab yourself a beer and a bun. At least that is the after work protocol in Tokyo and through sheer fascination, London has taken this concept to a whole new level.
Using refined ingredients, old hand techniques, and trendy know how, a handful of well-known and new chefs are dishing up delicate Japanese junk food and yuzu margaritas amidst slick spaces and elegant décor. London has been swept up in street food and with the launch of our new destination, Japan, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Here are our top 5 Japanese eateries:
Scott Hallsworth strikes again with his izakaya institution but this time Kurobuta graces the fifth floor of Harvey Nichols. Unlike its branches in Chelsea and Marble Arch, the space is modern, spacious and slick welcoming in a well-heeled crowd who refuel on tuna sashimi pizza with truffle ponzu and slow cooked octopus with green olive, yuzu (East Asian citrus) and dried miso and chilli. Kombu roasted Chilean Seabass with spicy shizo ponzu is a tangy take on the famous Miso cod from Hallsworth’s former Nobu days and is certainly the restaurant’s hero dish.
After much anticipation, Michelin starred chef, Jason Atherton, has finally opened up his latest Japanese restaurant in Clerkenwell. An izakaya occupies the ground floor serving mouth-watering, informal tapas in a slick yet laidback environment – Japanese dishes such as plump sashimi, textured open temaki and soft, crumbling, juicy tonkatsu. Climb the stairs to encounter a fine dining experience based on a seasonal tasting menu whilst downstairs, the basement is a room unto itself with a bar dedicated to playing Japanese hip hop until the early hours. There is something for everyone.
From the creators of Bone Daddies, Shackfuyu is an extended pop up restaurant based in Soho that invites guests to delve into rich and indulgent modern Japanese cuisine, leaving table manners at the door. Tuck into fried prawn toast and seaweed flakes, divine miso caramelised aubergine and succulent fried chicken wings. Don’t miss the beef picanha in kimchee butter, undoubtedly worth the praise sung by all the waiters.
Low stools, intimate tables, simple wood paneling, Nanban does not take Japanese comfort food lightly. In fact, most of it emerges straight from the deep fat fryer but it certainly wouldn’t hit the mark if it were any more refined. Former Masterchef winner, Tim Anderson, is at the forefront of this Brixton located mission to create real street food served the way it should be in Japan…although it does have a Caribbean twist to it. Electric eel with ginger vinegar sauce, Japanese style croquettes with ackee and salted cod, curry goat tsukemen with a scotch bonnet perfectly poached egg are all unmissable culinary adventures.
For more of an immersive take on Japan, head to Tokyo Nights, the latest pop up to emerge on the streets of Shoreditch. Sheltered by a rain proof canopy, venture into the hustle and bustle of a Japanese inspired market complete with neon lights, paper lanterns and an urban backdrop – five bars, street food vendors, a dance floor and eight private ryokans available to hire (Japanese houses). Perfect for an after work sake martini and wagyu scotch egg.