London's little known Japanese gems
November 11, 2010 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a small, local Japanese restaurant, anywhere in London, with amazing, traditional Japanese food. In New York there are a wealth of late-night quiet Japanese places where you can get more than just sushi, sashimi, tempura, rolls and so on. The kind of place it seems improper to laugh loudly, and one must be careful with one's use of wasabi. Does London have anything similar?

This post, from 2006, lead me to Ikkyu and Sushi Hiro, both of which are closed. Sushi Say seems like what I'm talking about (is it?).

I understand that a lot of people want to keep these gems to themselves. So, if you don't want to post it on the main site, feel free to mefi mail me!

posted by omnigut to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In my part of town (Bloomsbury), you could try Edokko - which always seemed filled with Japanese businessmen or Kikuchi which knowledgeable friends love.

Are those the kinds of places you are talking about?
posted by vacapinta at 10:08 AM on November 11, 2010

Sushi Say is definitely what you are talking about. My wife lived in Willesden when we were first going out and we used to love going there.

For a different kind of small, quiet Japanese restaurant (albeit sushi focused) try Icki-Ricki on Strutton Ground in Westminster.
posted by greycap at 10:56 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Absolutely. THANK YOU. They look great!
posted by omnigut at 10:56 AM on November 11, 2010

Seconding Edokko, I've had some incredible meals in there with my Japano-phile brother, who recommended the place to me.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:58 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. I can't wait.
posted by omnigut at 11:57 AM on November 11, 2010

Sadly, my absolutely favourite Japanese restaurant (Zipangu) closed and was replaced with something sadly rather mediocre.

But in Soho there is Tokyo Diner, which has a chicken katsu curry that just makes me all warm and happy and delighted with the world.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:30 PM on November 11, 2010

There's loads of pretty authentic Japanese places around Soho... Ten Ten Tei would be my pick (traditional but not too posh), but just wander around that area and you'll spot another five or six similar.

Outside of Soho, Hazuki around Covent Garden is a little more upmarket and has a great atmospere.

Moving out of the centre, I think Ginnan in Clerkenwell will definitely be the sort of thing you're looking for, upmarket and seems like it has that "serious" vibe you're looking for :)

That's just three of the top of my head though, really there's a wealth of these kind of places in London, a quick scan of Google maps should reveal a load more leads for you.
posted by iivix at 1:18 AM on November 12, 2010

Oh, also, if you're investigating new places, it's often worth searching for them on Qype, which appears to have gained traction as the go-to review site for the UK. I use the iPhone app constantly to find good places and avoid tourist traps. Works a treat.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:54 AM on November 12, 2010

Okinawari in Ealing might be up your street. Is Sushi Hiro really closed? There is a place on the same road which might do you. Kiraku, I think it is.
posted by mippy at 10:23 AM on November 12, 2010

Response by poster: I would like to tell people that last night I went to Edokko, and it's everything I wanted. Not the cheapest (their salmon/tuna/yellowtail/mackerel sushi "platter" comes to £22, for example), but saying that, the tuna might be the best I've had – and normally I'm not a tuna fan.

Try the grilled mackerel. Amazing. Some of the other things we had were tempura shrimp (fairly good), sweet shrimp (gorgeous), and stewed pork belly, which I've had better in New York, as this was a little less flavorful. However, it's still one of my favorites, and a pleasure to eat.

As far as the cost was concerned, without the sashimi platter we'd still have been full, delighted and only set back £35 each. I know that's a lot of money, but when you're looking for the best of something, it costs (especially sushi). To compare, my nearest "great" sushi place in Clapham set us back £55 each, barely filled us up and didn't include alcohol or free green tea.

And the atmosphere? Perfect. This will be a special treat for years to come!

Either Sushi Say or Kikkuchi will be next.
posted by omnigut at 8:58 AM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

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