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Japanese in London

I am in London for 2 days and trying to find a good Japanese restaurant on Sunday 5th December. I tried booking Zuma but its not open that night - any recommendations? Staying in Mayfair but willing to travel if its worth the trip! Have seen reasonable reviews about Kiku but I am not sure and also thought about Roka but a pal tells me its overrated??

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    1. I haven't been for a while but I dont think Roka is overrated at all - it's excellent.

      1. The tasting menu at Roka is pretty good actually. Not cheap though. Nobu's good too. Depends what sort of dinner/evening you're after. Sounds like you want upmarket, trendy and japanese, and these two would be top of my list in that regard.

        Umu is supposed to be a similar category to the above also, and in Mayfair. Haven't been yet.

        1. I'd go for Nobu too - food is really excellent (but not necessarily authentic Japanese). Umu is good although I would choose Nobu over Umu. Tsunami in Clapham used to be very good but it's been over 4 years since I last went. Roka is good, not amazing but fine - it's Zuma's little sister.

          1. I'ld skip Nobu (as you can get it in HK or Dubai) and go for one of the new generation of sushi restaurants springing up. Sushi of Shiori and Yashin. Gourmet Traveller has posts on both http://gourmettraveller.wordpress.com...


            1 Reply
            1. re: TomEatsHK

              Just occurred to me that Zuma is also a chain like Nobu with locations in HK and Dubai as well.

            2. As you know, Japanese food encompasses many different specialists devoted to specific dishes or sub genres. Sushi is one such area, but there are others that are worth looking into as well.

              Kikuchi is a great all round izakaya -- haven't been in a while but hoping to go back soon for their very elegant cooking. Fried shishamo filled with eggs and tsukune/chicken meatballs were some of my favourite.

              Donzoko is a touch less refined, but still excellent -- yakitori (various chicken parts) and oden (simmered fishcakes and other soft wintry items) are highlights. Superb breadcrumb on the fried flavourful chicken cartilage.

              Koya is a udon specialist. The udon texture is perfect and has garnered quite a bit of praise: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/702568

              Tosa specialises in yakitori/kushiyaki (aka grilled skewers) and in this area is probably a notch up from Donzoko and Kikuchi (well maybe except the tsukune/chicken meatballs, where Kikuchi's was superb). I think they use the traditional white charcoal/bincho-tan if that's important to you. Awesome shisomaki (pork belly with shiso). [Caveat: haven't been in a while; updates appreciated.]

              5 Replies
              1. re: limster


                in case you were thinking of going to Kikuchi soon, I think I read in a Japanese weekly paper that they were closing some time in December until February for a refurb.

                I probably wouldn't suggest Donzoko unless it was for a casual dinner, especially as the OP mentions trying to book a table at Zuma.

                1. re: wongkei

                  Thanks for the info...will have to go soon.

                  1. re: wongkei

                    ...when i went to Donzoko last summer, i found it mediocre, but two recent meals there hit the spot: maybe it's because oden is a nice winter food or because i'm missing Japan...it's good for a casual dinner if you want an izakaya that feels a bit like Japan...but i wouldn't rec it as a destination place for a short trip unless one is really craving that vibe/food and can't get it at home...

                    For sushi i'd rec Sakana-tei, near Oxford/Bond St area...

                    1. re: Simon

                      The variable experience is probably because Donzoko's menu is huge. Ate there recently with a long time chowhound who's really into Japanese food, and he reiterated how different parts of menu would be different restaurants in Japan.

                      1. re: limster

                        true, no true good izakaya in Japan would be serving such a wide/variable menu (e.g. nigiri and oden and katsu and yakitori and etc.)...and my first somewhat negative impression was influenced by that...but for whatever subjective craving reasons, it seemed to work for me this cold London winter :)