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A Japanese brasserie near Piccadilly Circus.
Please note, Anzu has now closed. Time Out Food Editors, February 2019.
Anzu is a polite, brasserie-style Japanese eatery in the slightly corporate St James’s Market development. It comes from the bods behind collagen-happy ramen chain Tonkotsu, but its food is much more refined.
Nearly everything I tried was excellent. The juicy fillings of the king crab and pork gyoza were only just contained by their thin, yielding skins, and while the crab taste was subtle they had a winning low-level funkiness. A pile of kara-age (fried) chicken was punchily flavoured and hyper-moist, the portion generous enough to constitute most of a quick lunch for a diner less greedy than this one. Best of all was a twist on nasu dengaku: yuzu-miso-marinated aubergine, the skinned, squidgy little pieces of veggie flesh given an uncanny taste of doughnut glaze by sweet sesame.
Mains couldn’t quite top those plates, but a nanban (Japanese shorthand for ‘exotically flavoured’, basically) fillet of sea bass was fragrant with dashi and neatly topped with teensy shimeji mushrooms and microherbs. Chicken-stock ramen was rammed with chewy noodles and topped with half a perfect onsen egg and char siu pork, served with a little bowl of proper fiery kimchi – though the broth, salty and only just lip-smacking with fat, was a poor cousin to the rich, creamy liquid you get at Tonkotsu.
The surprise hit of the meal? Umami-rich fries, lightly sprinkled with katsuobushi (dried and smoked tuna flakes) – a pitch-perfect smushing of East and West that I’d have merrily scoffed by the handful. Pair that with kara-age and you’ve got the world’s best chicken dinner.
Everything was supremely well judged, even down to a zingy yuzu lemonade. Service, too, was utterly charming. Informed, amusing and attentive without being overbearing, our waiter was as good as they come. All in all, an ace little package.
St James's Market
1 Norris St
|Transport:||Tube: Piccadilly Circus|
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