Tag Archives: Japanese restaurant

The Shiori

I never thought I’d say this, but my search for the best Japanese food in London has come to an end!

Mind you, I had to go to Bayswater to get it. The Shiori is located in a row of predominantly Greek businesses within the shadow of the great Saint Sophia Orthodox Cathedral. It’s so unassuming from the outside, I almost walked right by it.

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The interior is equally modest and – from the looks of these photos – a bit hazy. But it wasn’t that noticable and we were perfectly comfortable as we sipped our sake and waited for our 8 course menu to be served. The dining style is traditional kaiseki, a series of small, artistically arranged dishes akin to Western haute cuisine.

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Burdock roots with sesame vinegar

Burdock roots with sesame vinegar

Plaice Kobu-jime

Plaice Kobu-jime

Turnip's mizore soup

Turnip’s mizore soup

This soup was divine. I loved sipping all the turnip broth from around the fish out of these delicate lacquered bowls.

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Assorted sashimi

Assorted sashimi

The sashimi was amazing, served with an edible chrysanthemum shipped in fresh from Japan. The idea is to have a little nibble of it between each piece of fish to cleanse the pallet. It’s somewhat bitter, but needless to say, I finished every single petal of mine.

Next was the minced duck wrapped up in a doughy manju bun and surrounded by a viscid mushroom and yuzu gelee.

Minced duck Manju

Minced duck Manju

Vinegared snow crab

Vinegared snow crab

Nigiri sushi

Nigiri sushi

The main course was… more sushi! It was served with little brushes to glaze the finely scored tops of the fish with soy. It was truly the best I’ve had in London.

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For dessert, a trio of Japanese ice creams: green tea, chestnut and black sesame.

The Shiori celebrates its one year anniversary this week. I highly recommend it for sushi worthy of an emperor. And I will be certainly be returning myself… even if does mean another journey to Bayswater.

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East London Silliness

My gal pal was in town and invited me out to East London for a party. I was keen to go, but not in one straight shot. I have to ease my way east – so I suggested we meet for a cocktail on the fringe of civilization – King’s Cross. Drink, Shop & Do is the perfect place for people with short attention spans, like me. Started by two hip London girls, this place combines a number of my favorite things – cocktails, shopping, and having a laugh with friends. They also host crafty activity events, where you can get creative making flower headbands, or vintage style corsages, or origami bouquets. The perfect atmosphere to get silly!

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It’s an eclectic little place – and they make an extra-frothy espresso martini!6 7 8

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And the girls couldn’t resist this hunky tomcat…

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We jumped in a cab and headed further east. I’m always a little skeptical of anything happening so close to the financial district at nighttime, but sometimes you gotta take a gamble. I’m glad I did, because our next stop was a pleasant surprise.

Life on Old Street is a Japanese restaurant with an afterhours bar downstairs. It’s got that minimalist East Asian vibe, a pair of DJs, and a disco ball – which automatically upped its cool factor. Plus, the bar serves sake – so it didn’t take long for us to start having fun!

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There’s always someplace new to discover in London – and this applies to anywhere in the world. You just need to get out there and take the gamble. Because, sometimes, it definitely pays off.

Roka Charlotte Street

Now that I’m back in the beautiful United Kingdom after weeks of French food, I am once again free to indulge my unflappable hankering for Japanese! So it’s little wonder I ended up at Tottenham Court Road station ambling toward Charlotte Street and my favorite robata grill, Roka.

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Roka

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My undying love for this place can only be illustrated by some quick snaps of the menu highlights… Starting with sour pickles and firey kimchi.

selection of Japanese pickles

selection of Japanese pickles

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Holy moly – this kimchi! It’s a taste worth acquiring.

baechu kim chi | napa cabbage in galic and hot chili

baechu kim chi | napa cabbage in garlic and hot chili

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seaweed and grilled bamboo shoot salad

seaweed and grilled bamboo shoot salad

yellowfin tuna tartar, apple mustard dressing | 3 sashimi selection

yellowfin tuna tartar, apple mustard dressing | 3 sashimi selection

beef, ginger and sesame gyoza

beef, ginger and sesame gyoza

yasai no moriawase | assorted vegetable tempura

yasai no moriawase | assorted vegetable tempura

asparagus with sweet soy and sesame

asparagus with sweet soy and sesame

spiced chicken wings with sea salt and lime

spiced chicken wings with sea salt and lime

salmon fillet teriyaki with sancho salt and pickled red onion

salmon fillet teriyaki with sancho salt and pickled red onion

ROKA mini dessert platter

ROKA mini dessert platter

coconut ice cream

coconut ice cream

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Creamy coconut ice cream with a liquid mango center is pretty much my idea of heaven.

This place is so tough to top – easily one of my favorite restaurants in all of London.

It’s good to be back.

East London

East London might as well be Narnia. It seems so far off and inaccessible, yet I’m always hearing how very trendy it is and yearning to be transported to this magical land of hipsters where everything cool seems to happen.

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So this Saturday I donned my hipster uniform (rolled-up jorts and low top Jack Purcells) and journeyed east in search of off-beat Cockney fun. I arrived in Hackney somewhat dazed and daunted; so many strange characters swarmed around me – a woman in a bikini eating chicken out of a box as she hurried down the sidewalk, a stylish dude in a sassy full-length Grover shag fur coat, and strollers – lots of lots of strollers. Apparently, I’d been beamed into a hidden hipster breeding ground where young Londoners come to hatch their brood.

I squeezed past the buggies and highchairs in Lardo for brunch. Industrial chic Italian food in the urban hotspot Arthaus building. The baked egg skillet was scorched in a glittering dome oven and served hot enough to incinerate the roof of my mouth. The bloody marys were delicious but – holy, salt! – garnished with your yearly recommended sodium intake. To be fair, the cured meats and pizzas looked amazing and I certainly finished every bite of my breakfast; appetite sated, we headed off to lovely Dalston.

Lardo

Lardo

Lardo

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Baked Eggs | cannellini beans, spinach & feta

Baked Eggs | cannellini beans, spinach & feta

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And by lovely, I mean a graffitied gravel lot – and site of the Barbican-commissioned “Dalston House” installation by Leandro Erlich. Exploring themes of architecture, urbanism, and perception, the interactive exhibition gives visitors a tactile experience and optical illusion using a specially designed Victorian terraced house facade. Have a look:

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As we retreated back west, we passed through Camden on a pilgrimage for a word-of-mouth Japanese restaurant recomendation. Asakusa in Mornington Crescent is a relatively underground favorite for authentic sushi – despite its dingy outer appearance, it was jam-packed with reservations inside. Faded Tokyo kitsch cheers the otherwise passe dining room, and a matronly bespectacled woman calls out orders and “Hai!” from behind a counter covered in little cat figurines and stacks of Japanese newspapers.

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Meneki-neko (beckoning cats)

Meneki-neko (beckoning cats)

Accomplished - and very busy - sushi chef

Accomplished – and very busy – sushi chef

Japanese pickles

Japanese pickles

A fine bottle of junmai sake

A fine bottle of junmai sake

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It was a looooong wait for the sushi, but we had been warned. When it finally came, the delay was entirely forgiven because it was superb – fresh as could be, it dissolved on the tongue. The tempura and chicken katsu that followed were further triumphs. Dessert just put the whole meal into the top percentile of Japanese dining.

Yellowtail sashimi

Yellowtail sashimi

Katsu chicken

Katsu chicken

Mochi | Green tea ice cream

Mochi | Green tea ice cream

Red bean mochi

Red bean mochi

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This was a prolonged and drowsy dinner, which we waited for and lingered over for three hours – but with plenty of sake at hand, we hardly minded.

As I drifted down the underground tunnels, through the wardrobe so to speak, I was so gratified by my cross-city trip. I was a little woozy, but glad to be home – safe from the sad, traitorous Mr. Tumnus’ of London. Thankful as I was for the adventure, I had left him behind half-heartedly – knowing he was too weak and helpless from being sucked into the evil, frightening depths of Narnia. Life isn’t too far from a fairytale sometimes.