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This oriental veteran claims to be the oldest Japanese restaurant in London, and it’s become renowned for offering standout traditional dishes in pleasingly approachable surrounds: relax in the tastefully plain sushi bar and dining room or descend to the tunnel-like basement for the “classier side” of teppanyaki. Other places trade on sex appeal or bargain-basement street food, but Defune’s impeccable reputation shines through on a menu that resolutely follows the well-trodden path through sushi and sashimi, soba and udon noodles, teriyaki and tempura, green salads anointed with vinegary dressings and other benchmarks of the old cuisine. Service is suitably polite and reserved, the overall quality is high and prices are “robust without seeming unfair”. Note that the dining room can often seem quite quiet, but that’s no bad thing – Defune was never designed as a party restaurant.
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