Nobu has remained a puzzle for me over the years, being one of the earliest modern Japanese restaurants in London, its fame carries around the world and now most capital cities have a Nobu. For that, the London restaurant has a mixture of tourists, local families and pre-party goers in beautiful dresses. A confusing crowd that feels foreign and often too loud to continue a conversation (I blame the low ceiling and compact table arrangements), I had to shout the first time here. However, food is delicious at Nobu, especially if you see pass the heavy price tag and remove the thought that newer Japanese restaurants offer more elegance for lower price.
For me, deciding which Japanese restaurant to have dinner involve the following process:
A: Do I want homey food, such as grilled aubergine, katsu curry and tofu?
B: Do I want sushi or sashimi?
C: Do I want seafood grill?
Luckily, for each of these London has plenty to offer. Such as Ten Ten Tei for homey food that’s reasonably priced for dishes like nasu dengaku, chicken katsu curry, ramen, soba and teriyaki. Or Chisou for more refined home flavours but at higher prices. Fresh sushi can be found at Yashin, Shiori and Tetsu, all amazing in their own way. For grill, Zuma is my go to place. The grill menu is not long but include both healthy vegetables like shiitake mushrooms, sweet potato and courgette as well as jumbo prawns in lobster sizes. Robata grill is the selling point but Zuma is also a well rounded modern Japanese restaurant that serves delicious home made tofu, fresh sashimi/sushi as well as traditional tempura or something with a modern twist, sea urchin tempura. A good place to bring friends if they each like different dishes.
Sake no Hana is a weird name. Japanese people would instant doubt its authentic roots since sake’s flower makes no sense. They couldn’t be more accurate. The modern Japanese restaurant owned by Alan Yau (owner of Hakkasan, Yauatcha and Wagamama) promotes waitresses in short pink dresses, who usually glides through each table with catwalk precision but minimal attention to diners. Managers are far more attentive, ‘is everything ok?’ was asked 2 times during a 90min meal. Something people in this country dreamed the NHS would ask more often!