When those of us who have been to Japan come together, the chatter praise dominates of how even a small corner restaurant can have so much finesse in their cooking. Often a bowl of ramen on the street with only 5 seats can be heaven in a bowl, something I still vividly remember today. The sushi counters are busy with loud yet warm greetings of welcome whenever someone enters, each piece is then freshly pressed and carefully presented like a delicacy, the flavour then forms an unbeatable piece of memory. In London, only a few places can bring such fond memories back. For sushi counter, Tetsu at Clerkernwell comes pretty close and you are encouraged to eat sushi with your fingers than chopsticks. The new Shiori, which moved from its original location in Euston is also every bit of Japan that I remember.
I’ve never heard of Kiku in the blogosphere, this traditional Japanese restaurant has been hidden in Mayfair since 1978. The menu features a full list of traditional Japanese dishes, including grills, deep-fries, hotpot and the highest quality sushi. It’s not modern like Yashin where blowtorch works that smoky flavour but it has over 30 varieties of fish, 20 types of sushi rolls and 12 nigiri + sashimi sets. The sea urchin sushi I sampled was refreshingly sweet, perhaps freshly delivered from Canada in the morning. The sushi rice had the perfect size, small and petite compared to the sushi we normally have in London.
Harden’s 5/5 rating to Inaho was the sole reason that pulled me into its doors. Apparently it’s the “best Japanese restaurant on the planet” with outstanding sushi. The tiny place at the heart of Nottinghill Gate had only 7 tables or so. Filled with locals who knew the restaurant so well, they just walk in and find the table without guidance. 30 minutes into service, either I missed the point completely or the chef has moved on. At best, it’s a Ten Ten Tei with traditional dishes, but much less options and a more expensive price tag. I’d return as it’s a local restaurant but it’s not one worth the trek.