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Tucked away on Hanway Place, tiny and unassuming Kikuchi has since 1998 been an antidote to the flashier likes of other high-end Asians such as Hakkasan around the corner. But Kikuchi isn’t immune to change, and has recently introduced an omakase style of dining, where dishes are selected by the chef at two separate sittings. Superbly fresh sashimi is the house speciality, with fatty tuna and yellowtail among the stand-outs. Other hits include salmon sashimi pre-loaded with wasabi, slippery sea urchin with bright bubbles of baby salmon eggs that burst in the mouth, as well as a dainty portion of grilled sea bass, with crunchy asparagus and edamame beans wrapped in light pastry. Sushi is also available while, to drink, a paired flight of saké comes with a helpful notecard explaining each one and the order in which to drink them. Pudding is limited to a helping of fluffy black sesame ice cream (you might want to go elsewhere for a more substantial dessert). Eating at Kikuchi might not come cheap (menus start at £48 and head upwards) but graceful, sweet service and top-drawer raw fish make this a must for sushi and sashimi purists.
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01 January 0001
23 January 2013
I went to Kikuchi with my wife & teenage sons. We're all big fans of Japanese food and so we were not fazed by the online reviews saying this place was not easy if you didn't know what you were ordering. The next table was occupied by two Japanese businessmen who were clearly frequent customers, as they had their own bottles of saki/whisky. That's always a good sign and adds to the ambience.
The sashimi & sushi were excellent – particularly the o-toro. The grilled dishes were also nice, though the sizes were a bit unpredictable: the unagi was a generous helping which was fine for a couple of people to share; the duck was two skewers. The blackened cod was tasty and the giant prawn tempura were good, too — though we were not sure what to do with the head & legs, which were also deep-fried (and the staff weren't sure either, when we asked them). Were they decoration or can you eat them?
The service was friendly, though some of the dishes took quite a long time to arrive (we didn't mind because we were having a nice evening and were not in a hurry).
The restaurant was fairly quiet when we arrived around 7pm Saturday, but filled up very quickly and had a nice buzz to it – but it's not at the ‘plush’ end of the spectrum in terms of decor, if that's what you're looking for.
It is not a cheap place – we spent £240 for four people and only drank soft drinks, but we ordered quite a lot of sushi & sashimi including specials like o-toro.
I would definitely put the food in my top five for London Japanese restaurants, though sadly we still haven't found anywhere to match Tokyo quality :((
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