The food? Most of it is indeed simple: sushi, noodles, donburi, yakimono, katsu and tempura are all available. Some of it is complicated by more powerful flavours: garlic, coriander, ‘home-made chilli jam’ – mostly to lip-smacking effect. To say ‘wow’ might be pushing it, but we’ve been impressed by chilli-spiked ika karaage (deep-fried squid) off the regular menu and succulent sea bass tempura from the specials board – both in a feather-light coating that speaks of a dab hand at batter in the kitchen.
Good-quality fish is used throughout, so it’s a pity to serve seared salmon sashimi with an overpowering drizzle of curry-tinged coulis; fresh nigiri and maki are an unadulterated success. And may the management never remove garlic fried rice from the menu. The drink? A single sheet listing red, white, rose, saké, beer and soft. The restaurant? Just a rectangular room of cream walls and dark brown furniture with only a smattering of Japanese decorations to signify the cuisine.
But most of the staff are as welcoming as the prices, and you get all sorts here, in a good way, so it’s easy to see why the first Japanese restaurant to open in Crouch End continues to prosper without foodie gimmicks or showy surroundings.