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.
|Venue name:||Tokyo Jo Café||Contact:|
133 Lavender Hill
|Opening hours:||Open noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm Tues-Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Clapham Junction rail or bus 77, 87, 156, 345|
|Price:||Meal for two with drinks and service: around £60|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
2 / 5
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- 1 star:1
Extremely extremely rude staff, booked through a groupon voucher, after trying numerous times to book a table they refused to book us in and quite literally shouted down the phone "everyone has groupon vouchers, we'll take no more bookings". Surely if that's the case they shouldn't have sold so many in the first place and should refund their customers. Anyhow, i cannot speak for the actual food, but if you're considering buying a groupon voucher or expecting good customer service i would not recommend this restaurant!
Tokyo Jo's is very good. The staff were exceptionally friendly, helpful and efficient, the chef came out to speak to us and the excellent sushi, followed by grilled chicken skewers and rice was very much up to standard. However, we followed up with an order for "rare" grilled beef, which nevertheless was very overdone. When asked, the very friendly chef said that they cooked it that way because that is the way the English like it. I really cannot believe that people who had really really enjoyed an extensive variety of sushi would want their beef over done, especially when they had ordered it rare. However, we would certainly return, but making sure that our orders were thoroughly understood before submitting them to the kitchen.