Japanese Restaurants in Covent Garden
1. Roka, Aldwych House Japanese restaurant in Covent Garden 71-91 Aldwych - WC2
“I’ve never had a bad meal at Roka, and I’ve eaten there many, many times” – Arjun Waney and Rainer Becker’s small modern Japanese group delivers an “exceptional”, “all-round” package of clean-tasting fusion food served in stylish and “buzzy” contemporary surroundings. Dishes are “beautifully presented but also amazingly well-flavoured” – be it “fantastic black cod”, “fabulous sushi” or grilled tapas-y bites from the robata grill. Top Tip – in E14, the “weekend brunch menu is splendid value for money: especially the children’s menu”.
2. Kanada-Ya Japanese restaurant in Covent Garden 64 St Giles High St - WC2
“The best ramen in London – such a rich, meaty broth with just the right amount of fatty unctuousness” – is served at this franchise of a Japanese-owned brand, with branches in the West End and now Angel. The “nice, slurpy noodles” are “a firm favourite, great for cold days, hangovers, comfort food”, and come with a small selection of side dishes and rice.
3. Sticks'n'Sushi Japanese restaurant in Covent Garden 11 Henrietta St - WC2
“Not Japanese nor pretending to be” – this Danish fusion-chain offers a suspicious-sounding-but-successful mix of “fancy sushi” with “plenty of other stuff on skewers” (i.e. yakitori ‘sticks’). “Some of the non-traditional additions don’t quite work, but those that do are lovely”; and as a group, “where so many others fail, it delivers well on consistency”. Its “big and spacious”, Scandi-style branches create a “vibrant and exciting” environment too, “but, oh my word, the prices…”
4. Tokyo Diner Japanese restaurant in Covent Garden 2 Newport Place - WC2
“I just love it: it’s so cheap ’n’ cheerful” chorus the many fans of this down-to-earth Japanese canteen in Chinatown, which has been for yonks “a great place for the freshest sushi and yummy tofu”.
5. Ippudo London Japanese restaurant in Covent Garden 31a Villiers Street - WC2N
“Top ramen with great broth and good combinations”, win fans for this genuinely Japanese chain (originating in Fukuoka), which has branches in Holborn, Embankment and Canary Wharf. Ratings, though, fall short of the top heights at the hands of those who feel its food is “not bad, but not memorable”. A fourth branch is to open in Fitzrovia in autumn 2019.
6. Flesh and Buns Japanese restaurant in Covent Garden 41 Earlham Street - WC2
“A great night out, with fab food and drinks” is the accepted wisdom on Ross Shonhan’s rocking izakayas, whose original, Soho-basement location looks set to be eclipsed by its new Fitzrovia sibling – an impressively large (170 covers) space, which adds Peruvian-Nikkei fusion-dishes and an expanded range of smoked meats to its more-established repertoire of Japanese faves (sushi, sashimi, filled steamed buns). It’s “amazing food that will leave you feeling VERY FULL”. Ratings are dragged down, though, by reporters who find the flavour combinations “odd”, or the overall package too expensive. Top Tip – “given that the main menu can be pricey: the set menu before 6pm or tasting menu is by far the best way to go”.
7. Sushisamba Fusion restaurant in Covent Garden Opera Terrace, 35 The Market - WC2
“The lift ride up to the 39th floor is part of the fun”, when you visit the “amazing” City branch, in the Heron Tower, of this US-based chain (with siblings in Vegas and Miami): a Hollywood-esque scene, complete with a ritzy cocktail bar; vertigo-inducing outside terrace; and svelte dining room boasting “incredible views”. But while it can offer an all-round “great experience” – not least “fabulous” funky, fusion fare – its “pretty-looking” dishes come at extragalactic prices and sceptics feel that “you can eat this style of cuisine better elsewhere” nowadays. (Gripes of an overly “sweet note” to dishes also crept in this year). Its year-old WC2 sibling likewise has a superb setting on top of Covent Garden Market, overlooking the back of the Royal Opera House. But while it, too, is “all very slick and fashionable”, it, too, charges “obscene prices albeit for decent food” and – lacking the high-rise glam of the Square Mile – can seem more “clinical” and “pleased with itself”.
8. Eat Tokyo Japanese restaurant in Covent Garden 27 Catherine St - WC2B
“Genuine”, “pleasingly quirky” and “unflashy” – these “humble”, extremely popular cafés offer “excellent-value Japanese food” from decent ingredients in “large portions” and are “always full” of “Japanese students and other Asian locals”. The “brusque” service is “a little haphazard, as is the seating”.
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