During these balmy summer evenings, I can’t think of anything better than cooling down with some iced green tea and a platter of fresh sashimi, followed by a dish of tart, cooling citrus sorbet. These were the highlights of the meal at Tokyo Jo. It’s manned by a benevolent Japanese sushi chef called Danny, who on our visit was darting about tables introducing himself and welcoming the diners. The waitresses are also a cheerful bunch.
The menu’s a fairly standard Japanese selection, taking in mainly sushi and sashimi but with a few noodle dishes, grilled meats and donburi (rice bowls) bulking it out. But then Tokyo Jo’s not trying to be the next Nobu.
The room’s a spacious two-tiered affair that seats two dozen. Japanese memorabilia decorate the room, such as illustrated postcards depicting samurai and geisha; empty saké bottles; even a samurai sword rests on a shelf behind the sushi bar. The background music takes in everything from ghetto rap to the mellow twangs of the Thievery Corporation.
Everything on the sushi and sashimi menu was sweet and fresh, with creamy mackerel standing out for its lack of ‘fishiness’. But the knifework could be improved, with slices of fish varying in thickness. Danny’s nigiri sushi were more consistent, with the grains of pleasantly vinegared rice slightly on the al dente side, but well-formed. They were the perfect size, too, with a good ratio of fish to rice – just small enough to pop one, whole, into your mouth in one go, as you should.
But the cold tenzaru udon (wheat noodles, served with prawn tempura) was no patch on our current London benchmark, Koya in Soho – but then, few are. The noodles (not own-made) were soggy, and the portion small for £10. The prawns were sweet and bouncy, but the tempura coating was too thick and brown (instead of light and golden).
The ice-creams and sorbets might not be own-made, but the yuzu (Japanese citrus) sorbet is a stunning way to end the meal. Cool, tart and peppered throughout with tiny yuzu zest; it’s a shame we can’t commend the kitchen at Tokyo Jo for it.
For service, atmosphere and food, Tokyo Jo is great as a local. But despite Danny’s charms, we wouldn’t recommend going too far out of your way to dine there.