Hands up who loves Japanese food?
I think Japanese might just be one of my favourite cuisines. I could literally eat sushi every damn day.
Anyway, on a recent trip to London, Dan and I went to Ichibuns after watching Hamilton with his brother, Lew and his girlfriend, Jess. Ichibuns is a Japanese Super-Diner serving up street food style dishes on the outskirts of Chinatown.
You can't miss it... The front of the restaurant is garishly bold, giving you a taste of exactly what you are walking into. On entering, you're immediately immersed into Japanese culture combined with a quirky, rock n' roll vibe. The menu is inspired by the produce of Hokkaido Island and the East meets West feel to the diner is definitely unique. It's loud and proudly bright, and there is something to look at every time you turn your head. The ceilings are adorned with pages from Manga comics, there is a wall of Japanese beer cans, lots of weird little dolls hidden in the walls... It is ultimate quirkiness.
Downstairs you'll find another bar and more seating space. I'd also like to make a special mention for the authentic Japanese toilets, which were very authentic. Lots of buttons, water jets, heat settings and vibrations. I'll leave the rest to the imagination, but it did make for a rather entertaining trip to the loo...!
We had to queue for about 15 - 20 minutes before we could get in. I'm not one hundred per cent sure if you can make reservations, but if you go on a weekend night without one, I would recommend getting there as early as possible as it gets busy. We got there around 6pm. However, once we were seated downstairs under the restaurant there was actually plenty of space for us to sit.
Once we had settled down at our table we ordered some drinks and started drooling over the menu. Dan and Lew had a Hitachino Nest White Ale, a Belgian style wheat beer. I had a KI NO BI Japenese gin which was absolutely beautiful. The gin is distilled in Kyoto using a rice spirit base and botanicals such as hinoki wood chips, red shiso leaves, bamboo, gyokuro tea and green sanshō berries. It had a distinct earthiness which turned to a slightly citrusy sweetness on the palette.
In terms of food, the menu is pretty extensive. And if you don't like sushi - don't worry - you can avoid it completely. We decided the best way to go about it was order lots of little dishes between us. I was, of course, thrilled by this approach because I like trying lots of different things!
Jess, Dan and I all ordered sushi for the next round, and Lew decided to go for The Ichibun Burger (£12). This beast featured a 30 day aged British wagyu beef burger, topped with cheese, caramelised onion and ICHI burger sauce. It was served with sweet potato fries. It looked amazing, but apparently, it was just the wrong side of greasy. Tasty, but greasy.