Kirazu – London W1D
August 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
Tiny, tasty Japanese tapas in Soho – Kaiseki style!
I had discovered an unknown gem! A London secret! An as of yet unheard of, but soon to be talk of the town, little restaurant… or so I thought, until I got home and Googled ‘Kirazu’ and found it had already been discovered by Bitten & Written and Fay Maschler of The Evening Standard earlier last month……gutted. However, my evening could not have been spoiled.
Having spent just under two hours at the Somerset House ‘El Bulli: Ferran Adria and The Art of Food’ exhibition, my jaw ached from marvel and my tummy grumbled with frustration. As a solution, I suggested a brisk walk across Covent Garden to Rupert Street, where I had actually dined the night before at the popular Spuntino – London W1D, and had spotted a hand written blackboard outside a quaint and characterful little restaurant, announcing the presence of “Japanese Tapas” – I was instantly intrigued.
We luckily arrived in the nick of time and squeezed into the only two available seats; me, sharing a short bench with my neighbouring diner. This busy little restaurant has just two narrow wooden tables that together run the length of the venue, (paired with said benches along each side), a few tall stools at a window-facing counter top bar and a tiny corner bar that acts as a reservation desk, service station and miniature open kitchen from which chef Yuya Kikuchi produces his magic. Needless to say, its small but they have made maximum use out of the space they have as it’s comfortably crowded in a charming kind of way. The menu, presented on crumpled brown paper, rolled up and pushed into a tall glass on each table, offers a number of salads, sushi and small plates (£2.5-5), a handful of rice dishes (£3-6.5) and two ramen options (£9.5-10). Ignoring the ramen, we chose 4 dishes each and shared the lot.
First to arrive, the ‘Chicken Teriyaki‘ (£3.5), was not served in the usual skewers but as three slices of chicken breast, delectably dressed in the sweet, sticky sauce. Next, the ‘Prawn Tartare Croquettes with Shichimi Curry Sauce’ (£4.5) – crisp and tender, meaty chunks of prawn encased in deep fried batter – delicious.
The ‘Grilled Aubergine with Sweet Miso Sauce’ (£4) was the highlight – each chunk slathered with an incredibly tasty layer of sweet miso sauce, the soft meat of the aubergine was sweet and smoky, whilst still retaining a nice firmness. The miniscule Special of ‘Sea Bream Sashimi’ (£4.5) was pricey for what you got but the translucent slices, adorned with a touch of wasabi and dab of soy, were fantastic.
A teeny tiny bowl of ‘Sautéed Lotus Roots with Sweet & Spicy Soy Sauce’ (£2.5) was great – the lotus root was nutty with a soft crunch and unusual tanginess from the marinade. I could happily have had a bowl to myself. Another special of ‘Duck Breast‘ (£4.5) was slightly too ordinary and a bit of a disappointment – especially as it had been recommended to us by another diner. But such did not blight our meal. To finish we shared the ‘Mini Rice Bowl topped with Conger Eels & Cucumber’ (£6.5) which was a decent size and a tasty end – the BBQ eel, sliced ever so thinly was complimented by the sweet, sticky rice and pickled cucumber slices that it arrived with.
After all that, we were pleasantly satisfied – not really full as such but certainly not hungry and happy to order our bill without revisiting the menu. And here was the real surprise – it all came to £37 including a glass of delicious ‘Pear Sake‘ (£4.5 for 50ml)! Less than £20 each for an interesting, tasty and varied meal is an absolute treat and a rarity – especially with food of this standard. Go soon before everyone has reviewed Kirazu and the secret gets well and truly out!
*On a second visit, I again managed to nab the only remaining seats in the restaurant but this time let the chef work his magic, asking him to bring a selection of his best dishes. He did not disappoint. Dishes included the ‘Sea Bass Sashimi‘ (£4.5) and ‘Prawn Tempura Hand Roll‘ (£3.5 each).
Dinner for two: £37
Drinks: Bottle of sake from £14.5, glass from £4.5