Low ceilings, stuccoed walls and 1970s-style red banquettes make a memorable first impression as you enter the low-lit dining room at Asakusa. The venue is undoubtedly characterful and also popular. Small tables are wedged into every nook and cranny of the two-floor restaurant, and we’ve yet to see many of them empty. If you’ve never got much further then sushi when ordering Japanese, here’s your chance to explore what else the cuisine has to offer.
The menu runs the gamut of skewers, homely stews (nabe), tempura and all manner of other dishes, on top of the raw fish and rice combo. For saké novices, there’s also a three-cup tasting menu to ease you in. A dish of simmered bamboo shoots was redolent of earthy katsuobushi (smoked, dried bonito flakes), while the cold udon noodles with tempura and a soy-based dipping sauce had just the right amount of bite. From the list of specials, the raw shredded squid with kimchi was slightly disappointing – tasting under-fermented and a little bitter.
Asakusa may not be the best Japanese restaurant in town, but the range is good and the service friendly, so an evening spent here will never be wasted.