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Jumping on an increasingly heavy bandwagon (Gyoza Bar, The Woodstock Kushiyaki, Akari et al), this small, casual Japanese-style pub serves up sporadically delicious, good value food within a fun drinking den. Associated with The Piccadilly West End Hotel next door, Yumi has a separate entrance and does a good job of feeling nothing like a hotel restaurant. A long entrance bar overlooks a flaming charcoal grill, while the rear dining room is tightly packed and wood-clad, a loud electro soundtrack drawing in a young Soho crowd. Competent cocktails cover the classics, Japanese beers include Kirin Ichiban on draught or pricey, bottled Hitachino, while the saké list also gets top billing (available by 100ml). Indeed, the focus here is on drinking, so the food comes hefty, sticky and sweet: wonderfully fragrant and crunchy corn fritters with chilli; fried cauliflower smothered in tangy yuzu and gochujang sauce; or larger dishes including a delicious Osaka-style okonomiyaki (thick Japanese pancake stuffed with cabbage and stacked with piles of pancetta, fish flakes and thick, sweet sauce). The gyoza we tried was unremarkable and the quality of the wings in a serving of Korean fried chicken could have been better, but fair pricing and a convivial, buzzy atmosphere make this a solid choice for a drink with a difference. Provided you’re prepared for a tight, close-quarters seat and order a sugary, lemon-packed drop of Fukuju yuzu saké to finish, you’ll get into the spirit here.
I seem to be trying a new Japanese restaurant every week and this time it was slightly different to my usual sushi and sashimi favourites…We were checking out Yumi Izakaya, a new Japanese-style pub, on Shaftesbury avenue. The menu is made up of street food and Japanese barbecue, but with less of an emphasis on food and more on drinking with different options for beer, sake, cocktails and wine. The space is small and the decor is simple and modelled on the traditional izakaya restaurants that you see in Japan. It was quiet on a Sunday lunch time, but I imagine given the location, it would be much more bustling...
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