22 February 2012
Marylebone has its fair share of excellent Japanese places and, whilst maybe not as flashy or atmospheric as some of its rivals, Nambu-tei delivers on the food, the service and the value like very few other Japanese restaurants anywhere.
Like a real sushi counter in Tokyo, the restaurant itself is reached down a side alley, this one running off the unfashionable stretch of Baker Street, north of the Marylebone Road (where, if you believe the queues, Sherlock Holmes had his lodgings at 221B. An address located, in an even more odd numbering system than is generally employed in London, between 234 and 235 Baker Street). To complete the authentic oriental feel, it is behind a Chinese medical centre. It is as unprepossessing as it is possible to get in London.
The restaurant is a decent size, with a sushi counter in one room and tables in another. As there was a group of four of us, we opted for a table. We were swiftly seated, menus were proffered and beers poured. The menu is long and takes in all the classic Japanese takes on the likes of sushi, sashimi and tempura, but also noodles, shabu-shabu and all manner of hot foods that most “sushi” restaurants in Japan wouldn’t cover, leaving it to specialist places.
We started with some very pleasant gyoza, wandered through some deep fried oysters, some tempura, sushi, some wine, some more of most of what we’d already eaten, and yet still hadn’t had our pockets sucked dry. An unusual experience when dining at a restaurant in London, especially a Japanese one.
No one dish really stood out above the others, but they were each sufficiently good to ensure that I’ll be back. In fact it isn’t what you’d call a stand out place; not a place that the Michelin stars, or even Fay Maschler, would likely grace, but it is all the better for it. It is friendly, it is cheap(ish) and the food is pretty damn fine.