Japanese

HANNAH

Southbank Riverside, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 7PB

Tucked away inside the County Hall building on the Southbank is one of the best omakase restaurants in town. At Hannah, Chef Daisuke take inspiration from the kaiseki style of service and he blends both Japanese and British cooking techniques and ingredients to create a very spesh omakase experience. Seasonality is everything at Hannah so the menu changes often (as do the flowers inside the restaurant and on the plates) but you can expect expertly crafted and plated dishes like seared A5 wagyu with foie gras; sea bream shabu shabu; smoked trout with tozazu jelly; otoro with seaweed soy sauce; ramen noodles with chicken & Iberico ham stock and grilled chicken; grilled lobster with umami butter; ten sushi chirashi bowl; and tonka bean and cherry blossom ice cream.

RAMEN MOTO

6 Charlotte St., London W1T 2LR

Ramen Moto, from the same team behind Moto Yakitori & Sake Bar in Hong Kong, menu centres around a selection of authentic ramen bowls and Japanese small plates. Expect chewy, 100% Hokkaido wheat flour noodles and creamy, miso and shoyu broths, including the likes of creamy chicken (with soft chicken, pork chashu, seasoned egg, deep-fried burdock, spring onion, sliced fungus and onion); yuzu (with yuzu paste, soft chicken, pork chashu, wakame, spring onion and sliced fungus); spicy miso (with soft chicken, pork chashu, seasoned egg, wakame, sweetcorn, spring onion and sliced fungus); and veg/ spicy veg (with a kombu & mushroom broth, miso/spicy miso, konnyaku, sweetcorn, deep-fried burdock, deep-fried bean curd and nori) Plus, there are smaller plates and snacks like onigiri with truffle butter, chicken karaage and crispy shrimp rolls.

IPPUDO

3 Central Saint Giles Piazza, Saint Giles High Street, London

Ippudo is a massive ramen chain in Japan and, just as chain restaurants should, it provides a consistent and reliable ramen every time you go in to one of its four London branches. Tonkotsu, with pork belly chashu, sesame kikurage mushrooms, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and spring onions, is Ippudo’s speciality, which they’ve upgraded with the likes of miso paste and garlic oil (to make the Akamaru Modern bowl) and spicy miso, sansho pepper and roasted cashews (to make the Karaka-Men bowl). You can get these signatures with a range of different toppings, as well as add additional ones, with dishes like takoyaki, gyoza, karaage, hirata buns and donburi also on the Ippudo menu.

TENMARU

8 Clifton Terrace, London N4 3JP

Tenmaru, which started in Finsbury Park in 2019 and has since expanded to a second site in Oxford Circus, aims to replicate the izakaya experience you’d find in Japan right here in London. And it does so through its menu of small plates like gyoza, cucumber salad, karaage and vegetable cakes, and its ramen selection. Tenmaru specialises in chicken broth ramen, including the tori paitan (with sous-vide chicken chashu, seasoned egg, black fungus, bean sprout and spring onion) but it also does a soupless mazesoba and a great range of vegan bowls, such as the spicy miso and tofu and the basil pesto ramen. If that sounds up your street, just remember it’s walk-ins only at both branches.

SETO

5-6 Plender St, London NW1 0JT

This Camden restaurant may be low-key in its vibe but it delivers big when it comes to ramen. With miso, shoyu, and tonkotsu ramens available, as well as veggie broths on offer instead of chicken and pork broth, there’s a bowl to suit all tastes – all you need is some gyoza on the side and you’ve got yourself a very good meal. And even better, it’s friendly on the wallet too, with the lunch options being a particularly good cheap eat.

BAMBOO MAT

Former Chotto Matte chef, Denis Gobjila, and his business partner, Victor Rosca (who is best known for Sushisamba and Lucky Cat), have joined forces to put their own stamp on Nikkei cuisine – a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavours – and showcase it at Bamboo Mat in Stratford. Situated in East Village, Bamboo Mat has a luxury 9-course tasting menu for just £55 – you can also add wine pairing for £25, which we highly recommend you do for the full experience. All of the dishes are presented in a sharing style, including ceviche deluxe, hamachi tiradito, chicken anticucho, ox cheek in teriyaki sauce and a sushi platter piled high with dragon maki, bluefin tuna nigiri, and A4 grade wagyu beef aburi nigiri.

JUNO

2-4 Farmer Street, London W8 7SN

Juno, hidden above Japanese-Mexican fusion restaurant Los Mochis in Notting Hill, is the smallest omakase experience in London and also the first one in the world to be gluten and nut free. Run by  Los Mochis Executive Chef Leonard Tanyag (ex-OKKU and Zuma) and Head Sushi Chef Han (ex-Nobu and Roka), Juno mirrors the downstairs restaurant by incorporating Mexican flavours, particularly through inventive seasonings made in-house. As omakase means ‘I leave it up to you’, the chefs base the 15 courses around the freshest fish they have available to them at the time. The first burst of dishes is where you can really see and taste the Mexican influences, like madai (red bream) on a lime aioli and finished with a Oaxacan-inspired chicatana (that’s flying ant) and arbol chilli seasonin, and kinmedai (snapper) and cucumber as aguachile with grasshopper seasoning. Then it’s onto the nigiri section, which includes the likes of sweet Hokkaido scallop with yuzu salt; super creamy botan ebi (prawn) with green perilla salt; and an A5 wagyu nigiri, seasoned with a salt made from agave worm and seared using molten bone marrow. If you’re looking for a blowout meal, and you wanna try an omakase unlike any other in town, it’s well worth nabbing one of the seats at Juno.

INÉ

Mayfair to Hampstead might not be the most obvious route for a restaurant group’s expansion (you’d expect it to be the other way around) – but that’s what the team behind Taku Mayfair has done with INÉ. The restaurant opened in Hampstead at the end of last year, bringing Japanese fine dining to the North London neighbourhood. Looks-wise, it’s very Japanese inside –  extremely minimalist with lots of natural wood and booth seating behind an eight-seater omakase counter. Omakase is served at particular times throughout the day and is £100 for 15 courses, otherwise, there’s an a la carte and an INÉ special menu to choose from. Whichever route you go down, you’re getting a blend of the Edomae style showcased at the Michelin-starred Taku and more contemporary influences. The sushi here is top quality, particularly the sashimi selection, the botan ebi nigiri and the tuna nigiri set, and the octopus karaage, hamachi carpaccio and wagyu katsu sando shouldn’t be missed.

BRILLIANT CORNERS

Listening bars and audio-focused restaurants have gone through a renaissance in London but Dalston’s Brilliant Corners was one of the first to do it, opening way back in 2013. The Kingsland Road spot specialises in Japanese small plates, live jazz and DJ sets. The sound system is world class and there are always expert selectors passing through, so music fans are in for a treat. The food and drink offering is just as good, with izakaya-inspired plates like tuna maki, beef tataki, tofu korokke with miso aioli, chicken karaage and sashimi moriawase with ponzu on the menu, complemented by mezcal margs, miso highballs and natural wines.

MISATO

Misato is one of those ol’ reliable spots in Chinatown serving up affordable, fuss-free and good food. Anyone familiar with this part of town can tell you that Misato’s rarely seen without a queue, which is typically a good sign, and they’ve kept this base of loyal regulars since opening back in the 90s. You won’t find anything *too* adventurous here, but you’ll be able to fill up on chicken katsu (with rice or udon noodles), tori udon, chicken teriyaki donburi or hamachi sashimi for around a tenner each, so this spot’s great for a wallet-friendly lunch.

DOTORI

This postage stamp-sized restaurant in Finsbury Park is a firm neighbourhood favourite – as a result, it can be hard to get a table. Dotori is all about authentic Japanese and Korean food, both of which they do very well. The menu here is extensive and covers all the classics, from Korean BBQ to Japanese curries, as well as an impressive amount of sushi. It’s all very affordable too, with a full dinner here setting you back less than £30, and the option to BYOB which’ll cost you a £15 corkage fee. They’re walk-in and cash only, so come prepared – it’ll be worth it.

SUSHI SHOW

28 Camden Passage, London

Run by fish supplier Kaz Tateishi, Sushi Show, which has shops in Camden and Shoreditch, is the place to go for top quality and excellent value sushi. There’s always a great selection of affordably priced, pre-prepared sushi boxes on the counter but if you can’t see what you like, the team can just make something up for you, including party plates that are ideal for sharing. If you’re not in a rush, there are a few seats available for dining in too.

KIBAKO

Kibako is a new concept centred around omakase-style boxes from the Hot Stone team. As well as an a la carte offering including snacks, sashimi, carpaccio, maki rolls, grilled unagi don and A5 Kagoshina wagyu, there are three different omakase box set menus to choose from – regular, premium and A5 wagyu & black cod. Each box features between six and twelve sushi and sashimi dishes, plus aged soy sauce and wasabi grated fresh at the table, and they’re all beautifully presented on different ceramics; a main dish like marinated salmon, miso aubergine or black cod & A5 wagyu, served with Japanese pickles, miso soup and rice; and a seasonal dessert.

TSUNAMI

Tsunami has been going in Clapham since 2001 (including a major refurb in 2015) and it’s still the place to come for sushi in SW4. While there is a range of Japanese dishes like agedashi tofu, chicken gyoza, shrimp tempura and beef teriyaki on the menu, the sushi really is the star here – there’s a range of nigiri, maki and temaki on offer but you won’t want to miss the tuna & truffle mayo and the Tsunami special rolls. Pair it with sake, Japanese beer or a tasting set of Nikka or Suntory whisky.

"MU"

433-434 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AU

The team behind Brilliant Corners, Giant Steps, and Idle Moments have continued their tradition of venues named after jazz albums with their latest venue, which is called “Mu”, after Don Cherry’s 1969 album. They’ve done a great job on the interiors, keeping some of the dark moody atmosphere of Rotorino (which was the previous occupant), but thoroughly smartening the place up with a wood-panelled curved ceiling, hanging globe lights, and sleek modern furniture. There’s a large bar and a performance space which is the heart of the room and the headline feature of the “Mu” experience. There’s regular live music every night, with a mixture of resident musicians and guests, with two performances each night. Alongside the music, you’ll definitely want to tuck into the Japanese-inspired food and drink. Go heavy on the snacks like the scallop skewers; beef tartare served with crisp toasted seaweed; fried aubergine and white miso; and fresh sliced yellowtail with yuzu and pomegranate.

SUPA YA RAMEN

Cult ramen spot Supa Ya has finally come south of the river. Chef Luke Findlay (formerly of Berber & Q, Patty&Bun, The Hand & Flowers and NOPI) started the restaurant off as a super club until landing the first permanent spot on Kingsland Road for his new-wave ramen bowls in 2021. In keeping with the concept behind the OG, Supa Ya Peckham is Findlay’s take on the classic ramen bar, serving up bowls with bold flavour combos and British influence. There are brand new dishes on offer, including a ramen-burger hybrid, the Cheeseburger Mazesoba, which is made with a smashed burger patty, bread & butter pickles, American cheese and burger sauce. If you’ve already developed a taste for the Dalston dishes, don’t worry, some of the classics have made their way down sarf too, including the Roast Chicken & Corn bowl and the Noodle Ice Cream with Miso Caramel.

KOYN

She’s already got Chinese restaurant MiMi Mei Fair and Indian spots Jamavar and Bombay Bustle to her name and now Samyukta Nair has taken Japanese food with her latest opening KOYN. Like Nair’s other restaurants, KOYN has a strong concept. – it’s inspired by the duality of Mount Fuji and the balance of modernity with tradition. The two-storey space is divided into two distinct areas; Midori, a green room on the ground floor representing life on the peak with Magma, representing an active volcano, below. It’s all seriously luxe, with dishes like A5 wagyu served on a hot stone, hay-smoke lobster in umami butter, Chilean seabass with shiso salsa verde, and gochujang pork belly on the menu, so be prepared to blow a hole in your wallet.

NÉCCO

A complete lunch in central London for around a tenner is a thing to behold, and although it may not seem like it, they do exist. Nécco (meaning ‘cat’) in Exmouth Market is a Japanese cafe and bar with a super affordable menu of sushi, curries, noodles, donburi, homemade cakes and desserts, beers, sake and cocktails. Head over any time between 12.30pm – 3pm to take advantage of their lunch set deal, which’ll get you two Japanese tapas items, a bowl of rice and a drink for just £10.80.

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