From The Barbican’s Japan House to Blade Runner 2049 (we’re not the only ones that saw it more than once, right?), Japan’s myriad influences have been one of the major stories for London this year. We’ve selected three newcomers on our radar, and now all you have to do is choose between high-end sashimi in Mayfair, renowned ramen in Southwark or Hokkaido burgers in Soho.
The best things come in small packages (check the third Michelin star awarded to The Araki’s nine-seat restaurant last month if you don’t believe us), and Taka has certainly taken the sentiment to heart. Melt Room’s Andrey Datsenko is behind it, and while grilled cheese to sashimi may sound like an unlikely jump, this is Taka’s second venue, with a sister site in Tokyo. The compact two-floor spot nestled in Mayfair’s high-end Shepherd Market serves classic Japanese dishes from sashimi and robatayaki, alongside a sake bar downstairs, with standing room for just 16 people.
Over the river in Southwark, ramen specialists Yamagoya have found their first permanent home. Owner Masatoshi Ogata opened his first ramen shop in Fukuoka, the birthplace of Tonkotsu, in 1969, and Yamagoya have been busy testing out their tonkotsu and tobanjan (for spice fans) ramen for months in London, taking up residence above Shaftesbury Avenue’s Shuang Shuang before heading south. Yes, ramen has some serious contenders in London, but Yamagoya’s noodles are cult-in-the-making.
Inspired by Japan’s idyllic Hokkaido island, Ichibuns combines American diner culture with Japanese junk food and Shōwa era interiors, and it’s a mix that works. Nobu founder Robin Leigh clearly knows what he’s doing with agrodolce-tastic Wagyu cheeseburger harumaki rolls. Green tea profiteroles, truffle oil and snow crab might be on the menu, but with everything served in disposable cardboard bowls or biodegradable plastic (even the negronis!), Ichibuns stays true to the luxe junk food ideal we can’t believe we lived all these years without.
Photo: Ichibuns © Nacasa & Partners inc.