14 Hanway Street
London, W1P 9DD
020 7637 7720
Monday to Friday 6-10.30pm
This was our valentine’s meal. This year, Valentine’s Day fell on Chinese New Year, and we busied ourselves by having guests over to celebrate. So we decided to have our Valentine’s Day meal one day late instead. Based on reviews, this is one place that you need reservations to ensure a table. When I called to make my reservation there was some form of communication breakdown as the receptionist didn’t seem to be able to get my name, or contact number, or time of booking right. As a result, I walked over to confirm my booking instead. Luckily, this wasn’t very far away – just a few minutes from Tottenham Court Road Tube Station.
Kikuchi serves very fresh and very good Japanese food. When we were there the table next to ours had a group of Japanese business men – always a good sign. The menu was quite long, but we knew from online reviews that whatever is available would be as authentic as any restaurant in Japan. A very interesting review from reknown food critic and Top Chef judge Toby Young was pinned to the wall next to us, in which he praised Kikuchi for giving him the most authentic experience in a Japanese restaurant he has ever had. He was admonished for ordering edamame as a starter, as it is something only a ‘salary man’ would do (whatever that is). “The correct thing to order is miso soup”, his server recommended.
Miso soup we didn’t have though, but we would imagine it to be very good, as all our orders were of a very high standard. We had agedashi tofu, crispy fried squid, and chawanmushi to start. The chawanmushi was without question the best we have ever had. It was smooth and silky, and had the most wonderful fragrance of mushroom ever. The seafood tempura was good as well.
The sashimi and sushi selection we had was incredibly fresh as well. This was reminiscent of what we had at Sushi Hiro, and we remarked to ourselves that this would be the perfect substitute for Sushi Hiro, since it is located in a much more conveniently accessible part of town. We kept wondering to ourselves why we hadn’t discovered this gem of a restaurant sooner.
The next thing to arrive was something we had looked forward to – marinated squid. Now, what we were expecting was the succulent baby squid marinated in this red sauce that we’re so used to having in Singapore. What was presented to our table made us laugh nervously a little. It was quite something else. It was marinated squid all right, but it looked raw as hell, and slimy as hell. It may seem a little to strange to complain about raw food, being in a sushi restaurant, but this was something way out of what I consider to be food that I had to take a deep breath before putting one of those slimy things in my mouth. The taste wasn’t particularly pleasant, but I could totally see this being, in some strange way ala rotten shark, a delicacy in Japan. This is one of the rare occasions where I’ve met my match and found a dish too unbearable for me to finish. My hat’s off to Kikuchi for that.
The other dishes soon made me forget about that. The grilled mackerel was fantastic, and the chicken wings were delicious. One of the other highlights of the meal was the soft shelled crab maki roll, which A thought was brilliant, and the addition of the tamago (egg) in the roll put it head and shoulders above the countless other soft shelled crab rolls we’ve had.
In short, we were very excited about finding such a fantastic restaurant. We received two 5pound vouchers for our use the next time, and we definitely intend to make use of them. It’s a shame this restaurant isn’t better known, as it deserves to be ranked among the best restaurants in London.