Odds and Ends, London
• Vivo, Islington
An Italian place that serves beautiful looking pastries and cakes, salads, sandwiches, and pizza al taglio. Liked the custard bombe, a crusty donut with a pleasant slightly starchy custard filling. Would probably be back to try more stuff.
• Five Guys, Islington
A generic fast food burger. Not much flavour in the beef. Fries could be crisper.
• Kiku, Mayfair
A competent bento lunch (selected the Lunch Box Set menu), with a vast array of items but nothing particularly exceptional. A salad of lettuce with a tangy dressing may enhanced with soy sauce. A pleasant hijiki salad, with little needles of the black seaweed. A standard miso soup. Sashimi (maguro, sake, hamachi iirc) was fine but seemed roughly cut and uneven in thickness. Tempura was basic and competent, as were some vegetables and a prawn cooked as a casserole. A pleasant piece of grilled salmon. Sliced orange to finish. Nothing wonderful but nothing bad.
• Miyama, Mayfair
Had the set lunch at Miyama as a comparison versus Kiku. Competent and pleasant, and while it was not extraordinary, it was a notch up from Kiku. First, Doubin Mushi, a clear broth of seafood and mushrooms served in a teapot, enhanced by a squeeze of lemon (I prefer lime myself, but it's a nitpick). Then a lovely place of vegetables -- a firm fried bean curd/tofu topped with green onion, a umami rich hijiki salad, and crispy slices of deep fried lotus root. The sashimi appetiser was pretty good -- thick slices of fish and sliced properly. Reasonable flavour in what I thought was halibut, a fairly plain salmon, and good tender fatty tuna with a gradient of fat i the slice going from red to pink. Standard miso soup. Then a good succulent and slightly chewy slices of unagi/eel. Three pieces of maki filled with fairly plain avocado and salmon, the rice was not bad. Dessert was a fruit platter than even included a wedge of persimmon and some very richly smooth green tea ice cream.
• Shogun, Millenium Hotel, Mayfair
Yet another Mayfair Japanese place, this one cozy and hidden behind the hotel. Pleasant ohitashi, spinach wrapped in a thin cloth of egg, topped with bonito flakes, and mellow umami-laden broth/dashi. Sashimi is good but not the best of its kind. Fish were precisely sliced into satisfyingly thick slabs, and the textures were excellent: supple salmon, meaty tender mackerel, firm yellowtail, soft tuna from appropriate ageing. But apart from the mackerel, I wished for slightly more intense flavours. Sushi was of similar quality, high production values in the textures, some of the fish from the sashimi plate made another appearance, while others only debuted here -- succulent scallop, with a two coloured belt made from nori and shiso, a firmer nicely gelatinous turbot with a few chewy strands, sweetish tender prawns. Rice was somewhat soft, and moulded more closely together than places like Sushi Tetsu. Fairly pricey (averaging £4 per piece of sushi) but it reflects Mayfair.