Latest Japanese Restaurant News

Restaurant openings yakitori image

Japanese food lovers in London are being spoiled rotten once again this summer, with several recent and forthcoming openings in the pipeline.

Diners will be spoiled for choice, with an exciting new venture by Kurobuta’s Scott Hallsworth, the arrival of fusion cuisine in the Square Mile, and not one but two new Japanese eateries in Fitzrovia. Meanwhile, the grand opening of the new and improved Japan Centre loiters just around the corner in September. Read on to find out more...

Japan Centre: Bigger and Better than Ever from September

Japan Centre

Inspired by the basement floor food halls of department stores in Japan - the stuff of legends, for those who are lucky enough to have experienced it firsthand - the new store will be the flagship store for the Japan Centre brand in the UK.

Its main food hall will feature a treasure trove of different kinds of Japanese foods to rival even Aladdin’s Cave, with a delicatessen, a demo kitchen, a Japanese bakery and fresh sashimi counters in addition to three new specialist food rooms focussing on tea, sake and fresh miso. 

It will also house a huge 100-seater food court, meaning that you won’t have to wait for more than a few minutes before you devour whatever enticing delicacies you unearth from among its mounds of edible Japanese goodies. Address: 35B Panton Street, London SW1Y 4EA

Tombo: Third Restaurant Opens in Fitzrovia

Tombo Fitzrovia

Following a slew of successful openings elsewhere in London, sushi bowls and green tea specialists Tombo have just opened their third location on Windmill Street, Fitzrovia.

Arriving in London from Hawaii via Japan (convoluted, we know), the poke bowls craze offers diners a delicious and fuss-free way to get their sushi fix. For those not familiar with the concept, it’s a bed of rice topped with cubed raw sushi-grade fish and fresh, healthy toppings such as avocado, edamame beans, sesame, spring onions, and seaweed.

At Tombo’s new store, diners can choose from several familiar options on their menu of Japanese-style poke bowls: Classic Poke, Teriyaki Chicken, Salmon Avo Lux (avocado and two kinds of fish roe), and Veggie Miso Poke (organic tofu, two kinds of seaweed, and matcha miso). Alternatively, if none of the pre-designed bowls take your fancy, there is also the option to build your own, selecting your base, main, sauce, toppings and extras, much like customising a pizza.

Tombo’s other hat is as a purveyor of their award-winning matcha and Japanese tea, sourced directly from their tea estate in Shizuoka in the lush green foothills of Mt Fuji. They offer options to suit all stripes of matcha lovers, from freshly brewed cups of antioxidant-rich tea from the in-house tea bar for those on a health kick, or decadent milkshakes, sundaes and soft serve for those on a more dessert-driven quest.

Address: 4 Windmill Street, London W1T 2JL. To find out more, visit Tombo’s website or follow them on Instagram @tombo_london.

Bang Bang Oriental Food Hall: Now Open on Edgware Road

Bang Bang Oriental Food Hall

For those who missed it, north London’s slick new Oriental food hall opened up its doors on 10 July within a short walk (or food coma-induced stagger, on the way home) of Colindale tube station.

Designed to replicate the lively atmosphere of a bustling Asian street market, the giant new pan-Asian food and shopping complex houses a food hall, restaurants, shopping centre, and community space. The food hall alone has seating for a whopping 450 diners and thirty-three booths, so we recommend you bring a tent and set up camp while you work your way around the booths, as it’ll take you at least a week!

Restaurants selling food from Japan, China, Korea, India and Vietnam as well as lesser-known countries such as Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Lebanon all vie for your attention - but obviously we can only tell you about the Japanese selection! For those intrepid enough to venture north, a whole host of delights await, from staples such as sushi, sashimi, tempura, yakitori, and katsu curry to Hong Kong-style ramen, green tea desserts and patisserie, and more.

Unfortunately, Bang Bang’s website currently doesn’t add any more to the story, but you can sign up to their mailing list via their website or simply take the plunge and visit to see what the fuss is all about - don’t forget your stretchy waistband trousers. Address: 399 Edgware Road, Colindale, London, NW9 0FH.

Freak Scene: New Pop-up by Kurobuta’s Hallsworth

Freak Scene

This new three-month residency by Scott Hallsworth opened up shop back on 21 July. Billing itself as ‘affordable, lively and laid-back’, it serves a blend of pan-Asian dishes to Asian food aficionados in its 40-cover restaurant in Farringdon.

Headliner dishes range from tea-smoked lamb chops with spicy Korean miso to Thai red curry with duck leg and chilli crab with avocado wonton ‘bombs’. A new sake is featured on the menu each week, or diners are invited to BYO on Sundays. Expect to spend an average of around £38 per person for a meal.

The popup is in business from 12 noon until around 11:30 pm seven days a week. Initially it is only intended for a short run of three months, but gourmands are encouraged to ‘vote with their bellies’ if they are keen to see the new venture stay open for longer.

The launch of Hallsworth’s popup follows the recent sale of his Kurobuta restaurant group. Founded in London in 2014, the group has two permanent sites in Marble Arch and Chelsea which have remained open. Meanwhile, the Australian chef, who enjoyed a six-year stint at Nobu, helping to launch the high-end brand in his native country prior to opening Kurobuta, is said to be looking forward to focusing on new projects, starting with Freak Scene.

Sushi Atelier: Contemporary Sushi by Chisou

Sushi Atelier

The people behind Japanese izakaya Chisou, which has two restaurants in Mayfair and Knightsbridge, have branched out to give sushi a modern makeover at a new sushi bar in Fitzrovia.

On soft launch until early August, Sushi Atelier serves up a collection of artistically created sushi dishes with a modern twist, from delicate carpaccios to innovative sushi rolls and exquisitely topped nigiri. A quick browse of their Instagram feed turns up artfully designed plates such as shime saba (marinated mackerel) nigiri with chilli lime oroshi; BBQ tuna with parmesan; salmon, tuna and white fish tartar mix; and steamed tofu with marinated apple, sweet spy and a walnut crisp topping.

Regardless of what you order, however, there is only one place from which to do so - place your orders while sitting up at the long sushi counter to watch the sushi chefs at work, masterfully sculpting each dish by hand. For larger parties, cosy tables are available for booking.

Now is the time to visit - during its three-week soft launch, Sushi Atelier is hoping to lure in customers with nearly a month of consecutive discounts on food items: 50% off in w/c 24 July; 30% off in w/c 31 July; and finally 20% off in w/c 7 August.

Address: 114 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 6PH. Call 020 7636 4455 or book a table online. To find out more, visit their website or follow them on Instagram @sushiatelierlondon.

Mei Ume: Japanese/Chinese Fusion at Four Seasons

Mei Ume Dessert

This new Asian fusion restaurant at the Four Seasons brings high-class gastronomy and glamour to a previously neglected corner of the Square Mile. 

Soak up the atmosphere as you enjoy an East Asian feast fit for a king in the stunning setting of Mei Ume’s super-swish dining room, with soaring pillars and embroidered silk screens making the most of the building's high ceilings. 

Senior chefs cherry-picked from the kitchens of Sake No Hana, Yauatcha and Royal China join forces to bring you the best of both countries’ cuisines. Go Japanese with their beautifully arranged sushi, ranging from juicy eel maki rolls to punchy tuna with truffle karashi and parmesan flakes.

Elsewhere, the menu is divided into starters (‘small eats’) and mains. For the former, go for deep-fried squid in a salted egg batter, and steamed diver scallops, while for the latter perfectly spicy Szechuan chicken and wasabi king prawns more than fulfil the brief. Be warned: as you’d expect, dinner at the Four Seasons doesn’t come cheap. Address: 10 Trinity Square, London EC3N 4AJ.

Cubé Restaurant and Kakurega Bar Now Open in Mayfair

Cube & Kakurega

This new high-end watering hole on Mayfair’s Blenheim Street consists of a ground floor dining room and subterranean ‘hideaway’ bar. The cosy 12-seater underground bar named Kakurega (meaning “hideaway” in Japanese) serves 7Japanese cocktails, including a Smoky Negroni and Okinawa Old Fashioned, as well as rare and unusual sakes, premium Japanese whisky and fine wines.

Meanwhile, the 18-seater restaurant’s menu offers a mix of traditional Japanese dishes and Japanese dishes influenced by European ingredients. The lunch menu includes 4-piece sashimi set (£15.90) and 7-piece sushi set (£19.90) as well as more obscure offerings to suit a range of budgets, such as Okinawa Taco Rice (£10.90), Hitsumabushi (chopped eel on rice, £19.90), and foie gras teriyaki on rice (£22.90).
 
At dinner-time, however, the 6-seater ‘omakase’ sushi counter comes into its own, and the focus is firmly on sushi. Guests can choose from a three-section menu devoted to sashimi, nigiri and maki rolls. Cubé’s showpiece is undoubtedly the “Omakase Course”, available only at the sushi counter, which includes 3 assorted starters, 10 pieces of “chef’s special nigiri”, 3 pieces of maki sushi rolls and a somen noodle soup made with clear dashi (stock). At £75, this feast doesn’t come cheap, but never fear - Cubé also offers flexibility, so if your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far, you can also order sushi by the single-piece.
 
Opened on the site formerly occupied by Japanese restaurant Nagomi, the venture is being run by Mayumi Nunn, former manager of Kanada-ya and Eat-Tokyo; head chef is Osamu Mizuno, previously of Nobu and Sake no Hana, while bar manager is Reo Nomura, formerly of Kouzu and Tokimeite. Address: 4 Blenheim Street, London W1S 1LB.

 

Waka: Peruvian-Japanese Cuisine Comes to the Square Mile

Waka

Try the range of piquant fusion dishes on offer at Waka, a new Nikkei restaurant due to open in the Square Mile this September.

The Nikkei menu - a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine - will revolve around a selection of handmade sushi dishes, gyoza, hot options, and tiraditos - a Peruvian raw fish dish similar to sashimi, but served in a spicy sauce.

A sneak peek at Waka’s menu reveals a list of tantalizing dishes guaranteed to set your tastebuds tingling and your saliva glands flowing: hot chicken teriyaki rice bowl with Peruvian purple potato; tamari-glazed fried chicken wings; salmon tiradito with apple and passionfruit sauce; kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) and beetroot salad with rocoto chilli pepper dressing; beef and Andino cheese tataki with truffle mayo; and sea bass ceviche with wasabi leche de tigre (citrus- and fish-based marinade).

Dine out in Waka’s basement dining area, which will have room for sixty diners. Or tuck in at home with their takeaway options - dishes will also be available to take out, with typical prices around £4-£7.

Nikkei cuisine originates in Peru in the late 1800s, when settlers from Japan - known as Nikkei - adapted their home country’s cuisine using local ingredients, giving birth to a new style of fusion food. Address: 39a Eastcheap, London, EC3M 1DT.

Restaurant at Japan House London - Early 2018

Japan House

Among its other facilities, Japan House will play host to a high-end Japanese restaurant overseen by SALT Consortium Group on its first floor.

Seasonal cuisine inspired by Japan’s regional diversity will be the name of the game, with sushi and robata counters looming large. SALT has a portfolio of nearly fifty restaurants in Japan, while its first UK site, Engawa, opened in Soho in 2015, so the in-house restaurant should be in more than capable hands.

Japan House is a global Japanese government initiative to encourage cultural interaction,  immersion and introduction to the culture, travel, food and products of Japan through a handful of key sites around the world. The London venue will occupy three floors of a Grade II-listed building on Kensington High Street which was formerly the Derry & Toms department store (the other sites are in Sao Paulo and Los Angeles).

To learn more about Japan House, read our article or follow them on @japanhouseldn on Twitter or Instagram.