265 Eversholt Street
London NW1 1BA
0207 388 8533
We’ve heard nothing but praise for this little restaurant serving good traditional Japanese food at really bargain prices. There are only a couple of seats in Asakusa, and being as good as they are, reservations are absolutely necessary. We’ve made reservations on numerous occasions, but for whatever reason we’ve always had to cancel on them. (I’m sure my name and contact details are stored somewhere on a black list.) When the day came that we were finally going to honor our reservations, we were super excited. We went with MS, a friend of A’s who was staying with us for a while, and J, who would very kindly lend us his room for the period of time when we would be homeless after our lease ends (long story).
Asakusa is indeed a very small restaurant, and judging by the reserved signs on every table around us, it was a good thing that we heeded all the advice given to us and made our reservations in advance. In fact, making your reservations way in advance would be highly recommended.
Anyway, since there were 4 of us, we managed to try quite a good range of the dishes in their menu. First up was the Agedashi Tofu, which was pretty competent, though nothing to scream about.
The braised pork belly which came next was absolutely divine. The fat was just simply melt-in-your-mouth-scream-in-ecstasy good. The unagi (BBQ eel) was also very nice.
The grilled mackerel was outstanding – easily one of the best we’ve ever had. K also loved the skewered chicken livers (which only he ate, since the rest of us did not like chicken livers at all), and said that they were well seasoned and perfectly cooked.
The sushi platter was competent, though we’ve definitely had far better sushi at Kikuchi and Atari-ya. We also made the mistake of not telling them to keep our food wasabi-free, and so we had to pick the wasabi out from between the rice and the fish, and this distracted us from enjoying the food. Another competent dish was the cold soba noodles (which are quite hard to screw up anyway).
Not quite as successful was the assorted tempura. The prawns were absolutely overcooked and dry and hard as a result, and the batter was a little too heavy.
Also, the miso black cod was a huge disappointment. We were really looking forward to eating this, and were shocked at how cheap it was. However, when it arrived it already looked quite miserable, and unfortunately tasted really bad as well. The fish was overcooked, and lacked the silky smooth quality that a well cooked black cod should have. The seasoning was also quite strange. Well, I guess you get what you pay for. This was shockingly cheap, and as a result, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when it was shockingly bad as well.
Overall, we really wanted to like this place so badly. Unfortunately, there were so many glaring misses, and not enough spectacular hits that we left quite disappointed. We don’t think we’ll be in a hurry to rush back to Asakusa for another meal, but we can definitely see why it has so many fans and is ever so popular. Perhaps the secret is in knowing exactly what to order and what to avoid.