Japanese cuisine has taken London by storm over recent years and has fast become one of the most fashionable cuisines in the capital. Considered as a delicate, subtle and highly visual cuisine, you’ll often find Japanese food to be beautifully presented and served in small portions. Our favourite thing about this is that it means that you can try loads of different things over the course of one meal. There are many typical dishes within Japanese cuisine, such as sushi, sashimi, tempura, teriyaki and yakitori, each and every one a work of culinary art in its own right and requiring a huge amount to skill to do well.
Regardless of what type of Japanese food you are looking for, you can be sure that there will be somewhere in London that does it, and does it well. From Michelin-starred rooftop sushi restaurants to intimate noodle joints nestled away in the streets of Soho, the Capital has Japanese restaurants to suit all occasions. What’s more, many of these spots are run by chefs who have successfully run restaurants in Japan before bringing their skills over the UK, meaning you can be assured of high-quality Japanese food.
Given the amount of choice, you’re probably wondering where to start when looking for an amazing Japanese restaurant in London? Well wonder no longer, as we've searched the city high and low to discover London's best Japanese food - whether it be sublimely fresh sashimi, a steaming ramen broth or the latest deep-fried delicacy. Our guide below covers all price points and lots of different parts of London meaning that wherever and whatever you’re looking for, there should be something for you. So next time you’re on the search for a memorable Japanese meal in London, be sure to check back here.
Best Japanese restaurants in Central London
What: With fewer than 30 covers and minimal décor, there isn’t too much to distract from the open kitchen’s theatre at this hidden Soho gem. Watch as the skilful chefs prepare morsels of sashimi, sushi and snacks alongside extravagantly presented salads and the main event here: kobe. Engawa is one of just a handful of Japanese restaurants in London to offer this exclusive beef (which is often referred to as the ‘caviar of meat’) but be warned, whatever the cut, it comes with a lofty price tag.
Where: 2 Ham Yard, W1D 7DT
What: Kazu blends traditional minimalist looks (bare wood, a sushi counter, and an open kitchen) with a friendly welcome and some contemporary flourishes on a menu that’s both generous and not as expensive as it once was. All-in set lunches offer particularly good value for the likes of chicken teriyaki, prawn tempura and tofu steak – all served with miso soup, rice, salad and oranges for dessert – though expect to pay more for standalone sushi.
Where: 64 Charlotte Street, W1T 4QD
What: Once a pop-up, now a permanent fixture in Soho, this western-inspired Japanese restaurant from the team behind Bone Daddies promises “no-holds-barred food for the soul”. With its succinct, keenly-priced menu offering an addictive pick-and-mix of flavours, from Japanese-style pizza to miso-coated roast aubergine, Shackfayu is equally suited to a quick bite or a leisurely meal. The bar delivers strong cocktails, sakés and mighty sharing goblets of Koshihikari Echigo beer, plus gao bao buns at lunchtime.
Where: 14a Old Compton Street, W1D 4TJ
What: Starchy exclusivity is nowhere to be seen at this light and airy restaurant from the team behind Zuma and Roka. Here, the dress code is relaxed, the young staff are chatty and friendly, and there are even high chairs to seat toddlers with a taste for edamame. The menu at Inko Nito ranges from small plates to more substantial grill dishes and there’s a decent selection of saké, wine and cocktails on the drinks list. Don’t miss the amusing fortune cookies.
Where: 55 Broadwick Street, W1F 9QS
Sake No Hana
What: Set within swathes of cypress and bamboo, trendy Sake No Hana possesses a superb atmosphere that keeps it perpetually busy. Enduringly popular, it offers a vast menu that straddles the Japanese canon and beyond, all prepared and presented with enough pizzazz to make it feel special at the price. Saké classes, whisky and chocolate flights and a boozy Saturday lunch all help to maintain interest in this glam Japanese haunt.
Where: 23 St James's Street, SW1A 1HA
What: Spread across two floors in a prime location off Soho Square, this neon-splashed nightclub of a restaurant is as trendy as they come. A champion of Nikkei cuisine (a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian), Chotto Matte is flashy and bold in every respect, from brightly coloured sushi platters to the inventive cocktail list. High prices for small portions make this an expensive prospect, so if you’re on a budget, we’d suggest one of the better-value set menus.
Where: 11-13 Frith Street, W1D 4RB
What: As you’d expect from this high-end group, Aqua Kyoto serves pricey Japanese food with more than a bit of razzmatazz. Gorgeous kimono silk-padded booths give way to a dramatic dining room with its showpiece sunken sushi bar where you can watch the chefs hard at work crafting luxurious items for your enjoyment. Dishes such as king crab tempura with crab miso and Wagyu maki rolls will hit your wallet hard, but lunchtime bento boxes and sashimi selections are more affordable.
Where: 240 Regent Street (entrance 30 Argyll Street),W1B 3BR
Shoryu Ramen Soho
What: In spite of being one of a large chain, this noodle joint is as authentic as they come. The serene dining room at Shoryu's Soho outpost is full of communal tables, making it perfect for groups, while friendly and efficient staff deposit large bowls of steaming ramen and perky sides from the open kitchen to your place setting in true fast-food style. Prices are middle-of-the-road and you’ll find eastern-style cocktails and myriad refreshing teas, plus rare and premium sakés on the drinks list.
Where: 3 Denman Street, W1D 7HA
Best Japanese restaurants in West London
What: Unlike its plain Marylebone sibling, this glossy street-level sushi bar gives way to a sunken dining room that’s as well-groomed as the resident Chelsea clientele. It’s an arresting setting for excellent modern Japanese cooking that artfully blends tradition with innovation, and oriental technique with European ingredients. Dinings SW3's prices are at the very top-end, but for dishes such as melt-in-the-mouth Wagyu tataki, silky double-cooked aubergine with sweet miso, and sweet-fleshed langoustine grilled on the Josper, they’re perfectly justified.
Where: Walton House, Lennox Garden Mews, SW3 2JH
Kurobata Marble Arch
What: Taking its cue from Japan’s rock ‘n’ roll izakayas, where small plates and drinks make the evening go with a swing, Kurobuta is as fun and lively as Japanese restaurants come. Ultra-friendly waiters, extravagant cocktails and occasional live music, coupled with full-frontal flavours in the form of sushi, snacks, robata grills and Japanese junk food make it a favourite among younger crowds, though staff welcome guests from all walks of life.
Where: 17-20 Kendal Street, W2 2AW
What: Just a couple of minutes’ walk from Bond Street station, this understated restaurant offers beautifully authentic Japanese food in tranquil surroundings. Whether you go for a selection of super-fresh sushi or sashimi served at the counter or a banquet accompanied by sake or wine, quality is guaranteed at Chisou. The lunch/pre-theatre menu is a great shout, but you’ll need to arrive early for seats at the sushi counter.
Where: 22-23 Woodstock Street, W1C 2AR
What: Situated in the heart of Mayfair, this upmarket Japanese restaurant specialises in a ‘kappo’ style menu of small dishes, bespoke for each diner and prepared as you watch. Overseen by chef Yoshihiro Murata (who boasts a whopping seven Michelin stars across his three restaurants in Japan), Tokimeite majors in luxury ingredients including lobster, king crab and Wagyu steak, so it should come as no surprise that prices are high – even by Mayfair standards. Impeccable service and attention to detail help to make dining here worth the cost though.
Where: 23 Conduit Street, W1S 2XS
What: Ten seats, two sittings, no cooked dishes, no choice and no pandering to dietary requirements. This is how it is at sushi master Mitsuhiro Araki’s Mayfair gaff. Araki himself may no longer lead the kitchen, having gone back to Tokyo in 2019, but he has left it in the capable hands of protege Marty Lau. It sounds formidable, but such heady gastronomic experiences are extremely rare in London, and we urge you to put this one on your bucket list. Be warned though, diners are required to pay up front when booking at The Araki (£310 minimum per head), and anyone who arrives late is in danger of forfeiting their dosh as well as their meal.
Where: 12 New Burlington Street, W1S 3BH
What: Billed as a gyoza specialist, this tiny restaurant just moments from Green Park tube station is a great little find. Established by Kiwi chef Jeff Tyler (formerly of flashy mega restaurant Novikov), Titu is far from fancy, but what it lacks in terms of décor it more than makes up for in excellent quality modern Japanese food. As well as creative dumplings, you’ll also find a selection of small plates and a variety of desserts. Prices aren’t cheap, but are something of a bargain for Mayfair.
Where: 1A Shepherd Street, W1J 7HJ
What: Settle in to elegant surrounds for a complex culinary blend of Japanese, Korean and Scandinavian-inspired dishes designed by American/Korean owner Juliana Kim Moustakis and chef Pavel Kanja (ex-Roka). The pair has created a repertoire of great originality, with raw and plant-based dishes for veggies in addition to the meat and fish-based delicacies, plus a drinks list that embraces small vineyards, unusual grapes and wacky juices. It’s slightly out of the way, but Flat Three is great for special occasions.
Where: 120-122 Holland Park Avenue, W11 4UA
Best Japanese restaurants in East London
What: From the moment the lightning-quick glass elevator whisks you up to the 38th floor of the Heron Tower to the sexy, show-stopping cocktails, razzmatazz restaurant and thrilling fusion of Japanese and Latino cuisine, you can be sure you’re in for the ultimate spectacle. Sky-high pricing and a feeling of uppity exclusivity (including a strict dress-code policy) might not be everyone’s cup of saké, but Sushisamba remains a high-octane, fun-loving destination for those willing to wait for a reservation.
Where: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate (38-39th floor), EC2N 4AY
What: Pham Sushi won’t win any awards for décor or plate presentation, which is basic at best, but what this tiny eatery lacks in interior design, it more than makes up for with its extensive and uniformly impressive selection of sushi and sashimi. Most people come for raw stuff, but soups, noodles, rice dishes, bento boxes and some spot-on tempura are solid choices too. Wash it all down with beer, saké or green tea.
Where: 159 Whitecross Street, EC1Y 8JL
Roka Canary Wharf
What: Attentive service and consistently top-notch food make this glamorous yet lively modern restaurant, which now has multiple outposts across the Capital, a draw for all types, from office workers to families. The heart of the operation at Roka Canary Wharf is the robata grill with its line-up of fire-licked specialities such as sweet potato baked in a bamboo husk, but you’ll also find well-made modern-day sushi and sashimi, snacks and specialities. Prices are in keeping with most Japanese restaurants in London (not cheap), but there is a decently-priced lunch menu.
Where: 4 Park Pavilion, 40 Canada Square, E14 5FW
What: Dining at Sushi Tetsu is a bit of a labour of love, but one we think is more than worth it. In order to secure a coveted table at this diminutive sushi outfit, you’ll need to phone. It operates a weekly booking system (at specific times), and you need to follow the rules laid out on the website to guarantee a slot. Alternatively, watch out for last-minute cancellations on Twitter. Once you’ve done all that, order judiciously from a line-up of briny-fresh fish and traditional sushi.
Where: 12 Jerusalem Passage, EC1V 4JP
Best Japanese restaurants in South London
Yashin Ocean House
What: One of London’s smarter and more imaginative purveyors of creative Japanese seafood, Yashin Ocean House is committed to head to tail dining. This dedication to using all parts of the fish means that dishes such as pan-fried cod cheeks in a sweet-and-sour chilli amazu sauce seem to get better year on year. Prices are lower than you’d expect for the South Ken location, though still reflective of the skill involved in Japanese cooking. Staff are eager and knowledgeable.
Where: 117-119 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3RN
What: Set in a grand Grade-II listed period mansion from the 1850’s, complete with a huge palatial entrance door, this elegant Japanese restaurant exudes a gentle, romantic buzz that makes it perfect for date nights. Sushi is the headline act at Kouzu, but the kitchen also delivers excellent tempura, Wagyu beef from the robata grill and seasonal specials, so there’s something for everyone. The cocktail bar on the ground floor is the perfect place for pre-dinner drinks and nibbles before ascending to the dining room on the mezzanine.
Where: 21 Grosvenor Gardens, SW1W 0BD
What: An elegant reincarnation of Sumosan in Mayfair, this four-storey fusion restaurant has a sweeping staircase linking a basement nightclub, first-floor dining room and spacious top-floor bar. On the food front, Sumosan Twiga’s Japanese menu has been joined by Italian dishes, so you could follow sushi with sea bass spaghetti, Dover sole or veal Milanese and wash it down with a glass of European wine or a glass of sake. Prices? Yes, they’re high.
Where: 165 Sloane Street, SW1X 9QB
What: Slightly out of the way in Parsons Green, but none the worse for it, this sleek restaurant is a must-visit for sushi enthusiasts. Centred around a gorgeous sushi bar, the interior suggests serious dining, but there's plenty of fun to be had under the feather chandeliers. The kitchen is now in the hands of Rolando Ongcoy (from the distinguished Nobu stable), and readers are blown away by his sublime food, as well as Koji’s terrific ambience. Be warned though: prices can be eye-watering.
Where: 58 New Kings Road, SW6 4LS
Best Japanese restaurants in North London
What: As the name suggests, hot stone dishes are the thing to try at this Islington gem. Sizzling, super-heated slabs of granite will arrive at the table with your choice of protein, which you’re then free to cook to your liking. If that doesn’t appeal, there are plenty of other dishes which impress, as well as a short and straightforward list of saké and international wines. Hot Stone is by no means a cheap eat, but prices aren’t outrageous for the quality.
Where: 9 Chapel Market, N1 9EZ
What: Taking its inspiration from the katsu houses of Japan, Tanakatsu may not have the glitz and glamour of some of the other restaurants in our guide, but what it does have is a stonkingly good, and reasonably priced menu. This cosy, casual spot just moments from Angel station offers everything from sushi and sashimi to a signature range of crispy katsu dishes. With a number of different sakes also on the menu, this is the place to come for some affordable fun, Japan-style.
Where: 10 Wakley Street, EC1V 7LT
Specifically craving sushi? Take a look at our guide to the best sushi restaurants in London