Japanese Restaurant Openings - Summer 2018
Get the lowdown on the latest hot openings on the UK Japanese foodie scene, from Akira at Japan House London to the new Ichiba Food Hall opening at Westfield next week!
Akira at Japan House Now Open
Following the opening of Japan House London – a new cultural home in Kensington dedicated to Japanese art and culture – at the end of June, Akira, Japan House’s main restaurant, is now open for business.
The Japanese fine dining robata-yaki and sushi restaurant is overseen by former Engawa chef Akira Shimizu. With fighting talk from the get-go, his eponymous restaurant on the first floor aims to be "an innovative Japanese restaurant like no other ever-before-seen in London”. In practice that means diners can expect an immersive Japanese dining experience underpinned by authentic "omotenashi" (Japanese hospitality), all based on chef Akira’s trinity of cooking principles: food, tableware and presentation.
Chef Akira has designed the menu especially for London, focusing on charcoal-grilled dishes and sushi. Menu options include "imaginative sushi specialities" as well as flavoursome robata grill dishes such as wagyu beef and kushiyaki skewers. Meanwhile, rice is cooked in a traditional donabe clay pot which gives it "a deliciously nuanced flavour".
Highlights include dishes created especially for Akira, such as Sea urchin, salmon & tuna egg crepe roll with truffle cream sauce; Botan prawn with ponzu jelly; and Suzuki sea bass with shiso Genovese sauce. Some of the most popular dishes from chef Akira's restaurant in Tokyo's hip Naka-Meguro district also make an appearance, including Spicy fried chicken kara-age on the bone and Japanese Caesar salad.
Cocktails made using Japanese ingredients such as rare sake, yuzu and shiso are served in Japanese glassware, designed by chef Akira in collaboration with artisans across Japan to compliment the dishes, while the interior space mimics the concept of a "doma" (a social space where family, friends and neighbours gather together). Prices vary between £4 and £25.
Address: 101-111 Kensington High Street, London W8 5SA
Ichiba Food Hall To Open on 14 July
Ichiba London, a project by the people behind the Japan Centre, will hold its grand opening on Saturday 14 July, with a soft opening on Friday 13 July, 2018. The new food hall is part of the Westfield shopping centre’s £6 million expansion and regeneration works.
Inside the new food hall - which with a total area of 17,000 sq ft is set to be Europe’s largest - you’ll find food stations selling freshly prepared and cooked food alongside a larger retail section that will offer everything from fresh miso paste and soy sauce to tableware, books and ceramics. The eat-in food court will offer an enhanced dining experience, with space for 200 diners to sit and stuff their faces on all kinds of Japanese delights, including takoyaki octopus balls, veggie tempura, udon, yakisoba, sushi, sashimi and katsu curry, to name but a few.
There will be a noodle bar where visitors can sample freshly prepared noodles and tonkotsu ramen, a dedicated Japanese bakery and café serving items such as dorayaki pancakes, melon bread, and matcha brownies with teas from hot or iced matcha to rainbow lattes, and a sake bar, serving hot sake and regional artisan sake handpicked by an in-store sake sommelier. There will also be theatrical cooking stations surrounding the seating area with a schedule of weekly cooking demonstrations and workshops, events, regional food and drink festivals and sake tasting seminars.
Meanwhile, the retail offerings will include over 3,000 Japanese products to inspire and underpin your Japanese foodie life, from essential kitchen ingredients for home-cooking and fresh handmade sushi, noodles and curries to eat on the go to hard-to-find Japanese confectionery and sake, unique gifts and homeware.
To celebrate their grand opening, Ichiba has teamed up with Japan Airlines (JAL) to offer the chance to win a return flight to Japan. All you have to do to enter is sign up to their mailing list on their website to be entered: www.ichibalondon.com/ (competition ends 14 August, 2018; those already subscribed to the mailing list will be entered automatically). Follow Ichiba London on Twitter @ichibalondon.
Address: Westfield London, Ariel Way, London W12 7GF
Kitsune no Yomeiri Opened on 2nd July
Opening up in Moorgate on 2 July, Kitsune no Yomeiri offers a variety of izakaya (Japanese pub)-style dishes designed with easy sharing and remarkable presentation in mind, and promises “authentic Japanese cuisine and drinks all day service in a pleasant atmosphere, and at reasonable prices.”
A quick peek at the menu on their website reveals a selection of starters including tataki for cold dishes and staples such as miso aubergine, yakitori, kara-age chicken and ikaten (squid tempura) for hot dishes. This is followed by an exciting line-up of main dishes from the kitchen including many Japanese culinary options that are slightly rarer in the UK.
These include gyudon (thin slices of beef on a bed of rice), unagi-don (grilled eel on a bed of rice), Hawaiian-style poke rice bowls, tonkatsu and katsu curry, as well as udon and soba noodles. Dessert is limited to three options, but what great options they are - matcha roll cake, matcha millefeuille crepe, and (for non-matcha fans) yuzu cheesecake.
And for those who were wondering, Kitsune no Yomeiri, which literally means ‘the fox’s wedding’, is a rather mysterious Japanese phrase that can have several meanings - from the meteorological phenomenon of a sunshower to will o’ the wisp-style atmospheric ghost lights and strange wedding processions in kaidan (traditional Japanese ghost tales).
Address: 46 Moorgate EC2R 6EL
Tonkotsu Stratford To Open 28 July, 2018
Menu-wise, diners can expect Tonkotsu's usual signature dishes such as homemade ramen noodles, gyoza and Japanese side dishes, alongside a selection of craft beer, sake and cocktails. Food options include creamy, classic Tonkotsu pork broth ramen, lighter Tokyo chicken broth ramen, pork, ginger and garlic gyoza, and some of the best karaage in town.
Drinks options include Japanese beers, including Tonkotsu’s collaboration with Siren brewery, the Kisetsu Dry-Hopped Saison Ale, and the irresistible cherry-smoked negroni. Read on below for your chance to win a meal for four at the brand new Tonkotsu Stratford!
Address: Unit 1, Endeavour Square, International Quarter, Stratford, London, E20 1JN
Win Dinner for Four at the Brand New Tonkotsu Stratford
Founded by Ken Yamada and Emma Reynolds in 2012, Tonkotsu is without doubt one of London’s hottest ramen chains, so news of another place to get our hands on their bowls of delicious steaming ramen is always very welcome. Occupying a prime spot in the new International Quarter in Stratford, located between Westfield Stratford and the Olympic Park, the new outlet will be their furthest east venture in London to date.
To celebrate the opening, Hot Dinners has teamed up with Tonkotsu to give away a dinner for four at Tonkotsu Stratford worth up to £160. To enter, all you have to do is head over to Hot Dinner's Facebook page and like and comment on the post for a chance of winning. The competition is open from 9am on Tuesday 3 July until the end of Tuesday 17 July, 2018.
See Hot Dinner's website for competition T&Cs and more information about the new opening.
Yen Burger Debuts in London’s Borough
The 70-seater restaurant on Southwark Street will be serving burgers incorporating Asian ingredients such as Japanese shiso (perilla/basil) leaves and Korean kimchi, with a choice of several patty options including Wagyu beef and butterflied king prawns.
The bread for the gluten-free burger buns will be sourced from nearby bakery, Bread Ahead, while side orders of steamed edamame beans, crunchy Asian-style coleslaw and sweet potatoes fries will also be available for peckish diners to precede or accompany the main event.
Diners can wash this all down with one (or more - no one's judging!) from a range of Asian-inspired cocktails using ingredients such as kumquat, mint and - our personal favourite - cultured yoghurt drink Calpis (it's better than it sounds - trust us!). Follow @yenburger_ on Twitter for the latest news and updates!
Address: 1B Southwark Street, London SE1 1RQ
Gilly’s Fry Bar Moving to West End
The self-styled Sunderland chip shop meets Japanese izakaya has only been open since last September, but it will be moving from its 'test site' in Finsbury Park to an as yet undisclosed, more central location some time later this year. Since its inception the restaurant has received glowing reviews from critics, so it'll be heartening to see the venture continue to cook up a storm in its new central London home.
Billed as a 'Japanese-style fish and chip shop', the restaurant offers small plates of classic Northern chippie dishes such as chip butties, curry sauce, and deep-fried sausages as well as more unusual and eclectic options such as shiitake mushrooms, halloumi with honey, sweetcorn scraps - all washed down by pickled onion martinis to drink.
Rumours suggest that the menu will remain largely the same, but will be extended with a range of new dishes and a number of rotating specials - dishes like ‘Cod crack’ fish cakes and buttermilk chicken wings - will be introduced on a permanent basis at lunchtime. Gill has also spoken of his desire to develop his own brand of ‘deep-fried mini pizzas’ and ‘Japanese milk bread fillet-o-fish’, so watch this space!
Offers at Shoryu Ramen Covent Garden
Their Covent Garden outlet is currently offering Bottomless Ramen Brunch for £38 per person (valid from 09 July 2017 until 31 December, 2018). They are also offering Bun Monday - enjoy 2 for 1 buns with any ramen every Monday - and a Seasonal Set Menu daily, consisting of two courses and a seasonal cocktail for the bargain price of only £22! Find out more about the latest offers here.
Address: 35 Great Queen Street , London, WC2B 5AA
Summer Offers at Aqua Kyoto
Alternatively, if you are feeling flush you can really push the boat out and try their Experience Menu which comes with a glass of sake for £75 per person (valid from 09 January 2018 until 31 July 2018). Bottoms up - kanpai! Find out more about the latest offers here.
Address: 240 Regent Street (entrance 30 Argyll Street) , London, W1B 3BR