Japanese Restaurant in London
Today, Japanese restaurants are one of the most common choices for Londoners. According to the recent survey, Japanese restaurants in London already have one of the largest numbers among foreign cuisine restaurant in London (surprising, when did it become so popular?)
You can also find sushi, katsu and some other Japanese foods in supermarkets these days. Remember 10 years ago when Japanese restaurants are for someone who is really into Asian cuisine. People in London can enjoy Japanese cuisine much easier than before.
Having said that, foodies in London who is particular about Japanese foods should already have noticed that not ALL Japanese restaurants in London are 'authentic' Japanese restaurants.
This is, unfortunately true. As a Japanese in London, I would say roughly 70-80% of Japanese restaurants offer foods what Japanese people do not think they're Japanese foods at all. Sounds too much? I think it's still getting better. I would say the figure was over 90% if you ask the same question 10 years ago.
Where can you find a real & nice Japanese restaurant in London? There're Japanese restaurants loved by local Japanese in London. But, they are not popular chain stores such as Wagamama, Itsu and Wasabi. They're not favourite ones for Japanese people in London at all. We'd rather often joke about what they offer.
Now how can we find authentic ones loved by local Japanese in London?
Restaurants loved by local Japanese the most are somewhat kept secret and it's difficult to find them unless you have close Japanese friends.
This blog will let you know Japanese restaurants in London where local Japanese truly go and love to dine in. Of course, all of them offers authentic Japanese foods and the quality is guaranteed
Tokyo Diner - Cheapest Choice for casual Japanese dining
As all Londoners are aware, going out to eat in London is not cheap. Unfortunately, Japanese restaurants in London are no exception. So, you want to know a reasonable option, right?
Tokyo Diner is located just in the middle of China Town in London. It's always a vibrant area and this restaurant is often packed during lunch & dinner time.
Tokyo Diner offers decent Japanese casual foods at the possibly cheapest price in London. Staffs are basically all Japanese (or speak Japanese at least), so try to practice your Japanese language if you learn.
I would recommend two dishes here. One is Japanese curry and Don dishes (bowl dishes). Try katsu curry or katsu don. Both are cheap (10 - 13 pounds) and they're authentic Japanese tastes (I can guarantee).
Jin Kichi - Hidden Gem in Hampstead
If you're a big fan of Yakitori (grilled chicken skewer), Jin Kichi is the best Japanese restaurant in London to visit.
This is Yakitori. Beer's best friend in Japan and everyone just loves it!
This restaurant is located in one of the poshest areas in London and it has an izakaya (Japanese bar) style inside. But, don't worry. The restaurant price is not THAT posh in this area.
As North London has a decent population of Japanese locals (places such as Finchley, Golders Green are famous areas), this restaurant is loved by local Japanese and always get a good reputation for its authentic quality of Japanese foods.
Of course, Jin Kichi has many amazing sushi dishes as well, but again it's an izakaya-style restaurant. No one orders sushi at Izakaya in Japan (and they do NOT offer sushi at all!). So, how about trying some typical izakaya foods here? They have great deep-fried dishes such as agedashi tofu (deep-fried tofu bean curd). All foods go very well with sake and beer. So, don't forget to order some Japanese drinks here.
Nambu-Tei - Very old Japanese restaurant in London serves home cooking Japanese meals
Nambu-Tei is located just off Baker Street tube station and it's very vibrant and always packed with Japanese salarymen (note: employed working people in Japanese) at night.
This restaurant is also an izakaya-style restaurant as well as Jin Kichi, but Nambu Tei is much more casual and so the prices are. Especially, you can enjoy a decent Japanese set meal (teishoku meal) during lunchtime for less than 20 pounds.
It's not necessarily a clean decoration inside, yet you will love this one if you like a family-running-like small restaurant. They have a sushi counter table and if you come alone or with just a friend, you're likely to be invited to sit down here. It's fun to watch how sushi chefs make sushi right in front of you.
Of course, the cuisines offered by Nambu Tei all pass the Japanese standard (testified by myself!) Quality guaranteed.
My favourite menu at Nanbu-Tei is Shogayaki (Ginger pork) set meal like the pic below.
Atari-Ya - the best sushi you can get in London at a reasonable price.
Atari-Ya is famous as a Japanese supermarket as well for local Japanese in London, but they also have very nice restaurants. Atari-Ya is well known for its quality of raw fish (sashimi). They supply to many Japanese restaurants in London. So, no wonder that their restaurant can offer the finest quality of fish.
Atari-Ya restaurants are located in the Japanese area of London such as Finchley Road, Ealing Common and they're loved by both local Japanese and other nationals for many years. If you come here, you should definitely order sushi or sashimi as their fish quality is probably one of the best in the whole of Europe.
They have casual lunch menus as well and you can enjoy the same quality of sushi and sashimi for less than 20 quids. You can enjoy authentic Japanese restaurant cuisine in London here.
UMU - a luxurious choice with Michelin star
Lastly, I'd like to introduce a luxurious one. Like all other kinds of restaurant, Japanese restaurants in London have an upper-class kind. UMU is a Michelin-stared restaurant with a Japanese head chef who used to be a head chef of a famous Japanese kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto.
This is UMU. You might wonder about where the entrance is when you come here for the first time.
The cuisine UMU offers is not only authentic Japanese but actually, it's more than that. Modern and creative dishes are something that you cannot get even in Tokyo. All fish (they have sea urchin which is extremely rare in the UK) is quite fresh and they're resourced from Cornish sea and delivered to the restaurant every morning. You can feel the difference.
Eye-watering price is a possibly only defect of this restaurant, but if you book your seats for lunch, you can enjoy one of the finest Japanese restaurants in London for 50-70 pounds per head which are not that bad. For this price, maybe you can consider this as your option for next anniversary?
Do try fish at least at UMU. They have the freshest fish in London without a doubt.
Do not forget to book your seats as it's not a big restaurant.
Thank you for reading!