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Jul 16, 2010 07:38 PM

Authentic Japanese in London 2010

Where do you go when you crave authentic Japanese food? Where do think serves the best (fill in the blank for your Japanese food craving of choice: ______)?

There have been lots of great discussions on Chowhound regarding this subject; I'm starting this new thread since many are several years old already.

Best izakaya overall - Yoisho vs. Bincho vs. Tosa
Best yakitori - ?
Best katsu curry - ?
Best wafu pasta - ?
Best udon - Koya vs. Itadaki Zen
Best soba - ?
Best ramen - Ryo vs. Nagomi vs. Cocoro
Best takoyaki/okonomiyaki - ?
Best freshly made tofu - ?
Best onigiri
Best Japanese bakery with curry pan/melon pan/sandwiches etc.
Best Japanese supermarket overall - Atariya (which location?) vs. Japan Centre
Best Japanese dessert - ? (sorry green tea ice cream from a tub does not count - looking for a restaurant that makes their own ice cream flavors or other authentic Japanese desserts like anmitsu etc.)

I also started a completely separate thread just on "Best sushi". It deserves its own thread! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7210...

About me: I'm based in NYC most of the time, but visit London quite frequently. Some of my pickier London friends have claimed that they don't eat out for certain foods (like ramen), choosing instead to reserve this very basic craving for their annual Tokyo trips. Obviously, that is not feasible for most people. Would greatly appreciate all your advice on the best places to go to in London since not everyone can afford to fly to Tokyo every year!

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  1. Thanks for referring me to this thread, but MAJOR CAVEAT: been over a year since I've had some of these things, and haven't sampled broadly at all.

    I think Kikuchi might be the best izakaya I've been to in London.

    Tosa has great shiso maki, and the other yakitori items are pretty good. Kikuchi has great tsukune, and the tare was very smooth.

    Only had katsu curry at Tsuru, and it's good.

    Koya's udon is more chew and bouncy than Itadaki Zen.

    I wasn't super crazy about Ryo, the ramen is fine, closer to the slightly curly bouncy style (closer to a Hokkaido/Sapporo style I had in Boston), and the broth was fine. Nagomi's version is more straight and wiry (at least the one with the tonkostu broth; haven't tried the shoyu ramen); I liked it. This and Koya are probably my only recent Japanese experiences mentioned here.

    Haven't seen any decent (handmade) soba. Haven't had great takoyaki here, the few that I've had all seem to like using the okonomiyaki sauces, unlike the more restrained Osaka versions. Abeno has pretty good okonomiyaki, but it's pricey.

    I vaguely remember liking the fresh made tofu at Kikuchi, but it's notch behind a version at a friend's place in SF.

    Loved the koroke at Asakusa.

    As for Japanese dessert, some of the ones at Abeno are cute, but that may be it. I do like the dorayaki from Wagashi Japanese Bakery -- it's sold at various Japanese sushi chains that you might otherwise avoid, but it's good.

    Haven't had much edomae sushi here -- I have an old favourite in SF that I make pilgrimages to once in a couple of years. Kansai-style pressed sushi is available at Kikuchi (haven't tried) and not bad at Aki.

    Speaking of "noodles", anyone tried the ika somen (squid sliced into noodle like strips) at Kikuchi?

    I've heard a lot of good things about Tajima-Tei from friends who are really into Japanese food. Love to hear more here.

    3 Replies
    1. re: limster

      P.S. I do like the desserts at Itadaki-Zen. The texture of the warabi mochi is excellen.

      Not really dessert, but even though the mochi at Minamoto Kichoan is only good not great, they serve them with various kinds of Japanese tea, for ~£2, which is a steal considering the neighbourhood. Good place to rest one's legs in the area. (Skip the matcha though, they don't emulsify it enough and it's clumpy.)

      1. re: limster

        I've been reading your London reviews for awhile now. (Thanks to you, we're now regulars at Pearl Liang.) Thanks for helping kick start this thread! If you have any sushi recs, please help with the sushi thread as listed in the original post. Any particular reason you haven't eaten at any of these places in over a year?

        1. re: Noodle fanatic

          Haven't been back because there are many places in London to try. Great raw material for chowhounding.

      2. I'm among those who have recommended Tajima Tei to limster. It's my favorite general-purpose Japanese restaurant in London. Closed weekends.

        I occasionally eat takoyaki at Spitalfiends but it's sort of second-rate.

        I have never eaten good soba outside of Japan and have stopped trying. Ramen seems like it should be less of a problem but I haven't had any very good ramen in London, either (I sort of like Taro, but it's not like anything I've eaten in Japan).

        I've only been to Kikuchi once and my experience was not as good as the praise would suggest it should be, but I think we ordered poorly. Ditto for Edokko.

        What else? I love Koya, like everybody else. Never had yakitori or wafu pasta in London. I have no taste for Katsu Curry (Japanese curry is one of those things that is _supposed_ to taste liek it comes out of a box, far as I can tell.) Agree with limster that Abeno is pretty good for what it is (I like the ika-and-natto combo).

        1. I like the following for their Japanese desserts:

          Abeno for their Anmistu

          Sushi of Shiori for their home made ice cream. Their flavours include black sesame (nice and creamy) and chestnut.

          Necco on Exmouth market for their homemade desserts. I love their green tea tiramisu and green tea chiffon cake.

          There used to be a decent takoyaki stand in russel square on saturdays but I haven't seen it in a while.