The UK’s buzzing capital is home to over 13 million inhabitants, whose growing penchant for Japanese cuisine has resulted in an influx of Asian-inspired restaurants throughout the city. Here’s our list of the best restaurants in London for you to enjoy some authentic Japanese cuisine.
Lovingly made, authentic Japanese cuisine is the raison d’être of London’s Aji Ichiban restaurant located in Greenwich, South-East London. This Japanese restaurant’s satisfyingly comprehensive menu offers classic Japanese fare including sushi, sashimi, miso soup, ramen and tempura, served in its elegant dining space by unfailingly polite, attentive staff. Choose between single sushi options, multiple pieces and delicious a la carte dishes. Begin with the buta shoga yaki, pork lightly fried with fragrant ginger, sake and soy sauce, before enjoying the aji ichiban tonkotsu ramen, free range pork bone stock with noodles, crowned with Japanese char siu, egg and a soft crab stick.
Dinings restaurant, located in the Marylebone area of London, is a quirky Japanese tapas and sushi restaurant. It first opened its doors to the public six years ago, with excellent Izakaya style dining offering the very highest quality dishes, atmosphere and accompaniments. Since then, the menu has evolved into Japanese tapas, a heady fusion of traditional Japanese cuisine and contemporary European flavours. Tuck into the Iberian pork shabu-shabu with cress salad and cho-jang sauce from the cold meats section or the Cornish crab croquettas served with smoked paprika relish. Reservations are taken a month in advance, so be sure to set a date to visit this popular venue as this is one of the best Japanese restaurants in London.
Relax and unwind in the sophisticated environs of the Flesh and Buns izakaya restaurant, located near Covent Garden. The restaurant invites guests to ‘drink booze, eat buns [and] come often’, a nod towards its convivial, laid back approach and the many great value food and drink combinations on offer. Every Sunday, Flesh & Buns offers its very own ‘bottomless brunch’, where guests pay £34 to £42 for a cocktail on arrival; chips, dips and edamame; unlimited hot and cold dishes; unlimited Prosecco, red or white wine and a dessert for the table. The most popular Flesh & Buns dishes include the crispy piglet belly with mustard miso, all tucked up inside a fresh homemade tender bun.
Nestled in the Fitzrovia area of London, Japanese restaurant, Roka, offers exemplary contemporary robatayaki cuisine. At the restaurant’s centre stands the robata grill, where the freshest fish, poultry, meat and vegetables are combined and crafted into delicious dishes. Enjoy Roka classic, the delectable gindara to gazi no gyoza dish: black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings prepared to perfection. For those looking for a holistic robatayaki experience, the tasting menu is a fantastic option, offering a variety of dishes for two or more guests, such as kobu-jime kamo no kunsei yaki, kinkan to kaki: succulent smoked duck breast with barley miso and kumquats.
Shochu Kanteen interior and signature dish | Courtesy Shochu Kanteen
Shrug off the lunchtime throng at Charlotte Street and glide into the effortlessly elegant Japanese eatery, Shochu Lounge. This superb midday dining spot was fashioned out of the pre-existing Shochu Lounge, where the traditional Japanese distilled beverage, Shochu, is served with flamboyance. The Lounge, open between 12pm and 3:30pm from Monday to Friday, boasts a menu replete with traditional ramen, sweet sticky savoury buns, tantalising fried dishes and a myriad delicious salads. Highly recommended are the tako balls and the crispy octopus croquettes with kewpie mayo, both of which promise melt-in-the-mouth flavour thanks to expert preparation.
London’s Shoryu Ramen restaurant offers diners a tantalising taste of Hakata via their speciality Hakata tonkotsu ramen dishes. The base of these popular dishes is the full-flavoured, silky tonkotsu pork stock, carefully created over a 12 hour period. Shoryu has entered into a partnership with an artisanal UK noodle maker to source the perfect noodles for the ramen. Also highly recommended are the sticky, generously filled ‘Hirata Buns’ that melt-in-the-mouth with extraordinary flavour. There are three Shoryu Ramen’s in London, located on Regent Street, Soho and Carnaby. Bookings for the Carnaby Shorya Ramen can be made online, while all other branches operate a no-bookings policy.
London’s Yoobi restaurant was the very first Japanese temakeria to make its way into the capital. Its status as a temakeria derives from the traditional Japanese temaki dishes it serves: a fusion of Japanese and Brazilian flavourings combined to create something truly special. Yoobi calls itself a ‘playground for sushi’, a title exemplified by the multitude of sushi options on its extensive menu. From the special selection, try the citrus salmon sushi: salmon combined with orange tobiko, avocado, chives, croutins, yuzu mayo and rice. Patrons looking for something particularly unusual should try the 20-hour cured salmon with Asian pear and fluffy rice.
Japanese fusion is the aim of London’s Zaibatsu and the restaurant offers a range of sushi, finely cut sashimi, crisp salads, noodles and sizzling tempura. Located near Greenwich, Zaibatsu is renowned for its delicious tempura dishes, such as the kataifi tempura: prawns encased in kataifi pastry and drizzled with creamy mango mayo. Particularly recommended is the omakase sashimi selection, a seven piece assortment of sashimi constructed with the freshest fish from the day’s catch, served as tender slices alongside a traditional soya dip.
Knightsbridge’s Zuma restaurant is modelled on the traditional Japanese Izakaya style of informal dining with an elegant interior divided into a main dining area, a sushi counter with a robata tosho table and a kotatsu room. All were designed by the revered Tokyo-based architecture and design company Super Potato. An open kitchen allows diners to watch the talented chefs as they prepare the selection of Japanese treats. The menu is expansive and diverse; a particular local favourite being the delectable miso fumi no foagla umeboshi zoe, seared miso marinated foie gras served with umeboshi compote.