SquareMeal Review of
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.
Yumi Izakaya is recommended for