On Hampstead’s bijou Heath Street, Jin Kichi’s elegant green façade sits discreetly among florists, jewellers and estate agents. The homely dining room is less swish, its central feature being a robata grill, framed by counter seating. This is somewhere to come for a quiet meal with friends or family, rather than to see and be seen.
You’ll find the usual line-up of chicken, beef, pork and vegetable skewers on the coals, including a few less common cuts such as crunchy chicken gizzards, or beef tongue – all cooked just right. From the list of grilled fish, yellowtail and salmon collar (the part behind the fin and head) make unusual but delicious choices: some parts marbled with buttery fat, others more lean and crisp from the grill. The sushi is also good, including a standard range of tuna, salmon, sea bass and yellowtail, plus other marine creatures.
The only disappointment on a recent trip was a special of vinegar-pickled cauliflower, which was rather too potent. Saké (available by the cup or bottle) makes the natural accompaniment to a meal, but if you’re in a party mood, there are also shochu cocktails.