Monday, 18 March 2013

Tokyo Diner

This little restaurant is based in the heart of London’s Chinatown but provides some of the best (and cheapest) Japanese food around town. Designed in a traditionally Japanese fashion, with sliding doors and fabric hangings, this place feels homely and makes you feel like you’re actually sitting down for dinner in Tokyo.

I went on a Thursday night and it was packed. I generally hate waiting for food so I was almost put off when I was told we would have to join the queue to be seated. Nevertheless, it was only a 10 minute wait and we were quickly taken to the bottom floor of the restaurant. Note: This restaurant has three floors so you won’t ever be waiting too long.

We sat down at a table with deceivingly low chairs at first glance; another reminder of how traditional the restaurant is. Everything from the seats to the tiles on the wall has been carefully chosen to add to the Japanese experience by the looks of it.

When you first sit down, you get complimentary green tea and Japanese rice crackers which I thought was a nice touch as very few restaurants opt for this sort of service anymore.  Once we got the menu I started flicking through and was surprised again by something different; they had written in brief descriptions of the food and the particular dishes’ history which I thought was really cool. 

Anyways down to the important stuff, the order:

Agadeshi Tofu
Tofu donburi
Chicken Katsu curry

Now, I know this isn’t a lot, but the waitress assured me it was enough, she also told me that larger portions were free so I could ask for more rice at any point if I wasn’t full. If free rice doesn’t sound like a good deal to you, I don’t know what does. When the food came, it was brilliant. The Agadeshi tofu was perfectly crisp on the outside and soft of the inside as it’s traditionally done in Japan. The tofu donburi was a tofu fillet fried in panko breadcrumbs and served on a bed of rice with a plum sauce. The katsu curry was huge, served with both rice and salad. Both dishes tasted great and I haven’t had a katsu curry or tofu like that since I was in Japan a few years ago. For this sort of quality and service, you would generally expect to pay top dollar, especially in a central London restaurant. But not this place, the prices are extremely reasonable and we only paid £21 for two people! On top of that, again in true Japanese fashion, they don’t accept TIPS! That’s right, they do not allow you to give tips and any money which is left behind by accident is donated to charity. All they ask is that you come back and tell your friends, so I guess in a way, this is my tip.

This isn’t the restaurant you go to trying to impress someone, but it is a dig which should be part of every foodie’s cheap- but- quality eateries list. If you’re in the area definitely check it out and let us know what you think! 

By Viren Samani (@VirenSamani1)

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