Behind an understated exterior in Soho, Japanese small plates and ramen are turned out with immaculate skill at low prices.
Please note, Kirazu is now closed. Time Out Food & Drink editors, June 2016.
There’s no sign above the door, no flashy exterior. Just an A-board advertising ‘Japanese Tapas and Ramen’. Kirazu may be paces away from Spuntino – one of Soho’s trendiest ‘hidden’ diners – but it’s easy to walk past Kirazu without a second glance. Don’t. You won’t find anything else in London quite like it.
Despite the understated exterior, Kirazu’s ad-hoc interior wouldn’t be out of place in a hip Hackney eatery. Bare light bulbs dangle from the ceiling; crates are used as shelves for bottles on the white walls and fresh-faced after-work customers sit at communal tables on knocked-together wooden benches. The room buzzes with excited chatter.
Chef Yuya Kikuchi smiles as he turns out skilful yet pared-down small plates from behind his chunky wooden counter stacked with crockery, squeezy bottles of sauces, a blowtorch, and the other accoutrements of his craft.
Much of Kikuchi’s menu is themed around obanzai – a traditional home-cooking style from Japan – and he believes his restaurant is the only one to serve it in Europe. As cuisines go, obanzai is humble; no fancy garnishes, no expensive ingredients. But the Kansai region it originates from is renowned for the quality of its produce, especially vegetables, and obanzai is built around letting the ingredients sing.
Conger eel, a classic summer food that the Japanese say can cool you down on a hot day, was served grilled in a sweet soy-based sauce with a few slices of cucumber. Salmon sashimi was burnished with a blowtorch, imbuing the silky flesh with a delicate hint of smoke. Another dish to be flame-finished was salt-cured and chilli-seasoned cod roe (mentaiko) that popped in the mouth as we ate it, yielding its bitter-edged piquancy.
It’s not all obanzai though. In keeping with the current London trend, ramen makes an appearance, as does the Osaka street-food takoyaki. These round battered octopus balls, cooked on a dimpled griddle, then smothered in Japanese mayo and thick Worcestershire-style sauce, were the best we’ve found in London.
Chef Kikuchi clearly has talent, as well as extensive training in Japanese haute cuisine (kaiseki), and years of cheffing experience racked up around the the world. He’s putting it to good use at Kirazu. We’ll be back to try more of his well-priced plates, along with an accompanying cup or two of saké.
47 Rupert Street
|Opening hours:||Lunch served noon-2.30pm Sat. Dinner served 6-10.30pm Mon-Sat|
|Transport:||Tube: Piccadilly Circus|
|Do you own this business?|
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Average User Rating
3.1 / 5
- 5 star:9
- 4 star:2
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:8
What a fun evening. The food was delcious and interesting -- we had about 7 small plates for the two of us -- some better than others, but all tasty. service was friendly but a little disorganized. such a friendly, warm, vibrant feel to the restaurant that is was easy to forgive the occasional lapses. we loved sitting by the window and watching the world go by.
I went last night for the first time and it was so delicious...
I had green beans which felt like butter
Also roll octopus and then scallop.
Each of these dishes was just succulent, the staff was really nice too
you should definitely try ! I can't wait to go back
I went here on Saturday night with a friend and I was hugely disappointed. The place itself is quite nice; very small, but intimate and comfortable enough. That said, the service was terrible. It took the waitress 25 minutes to bring us our drinks, and it was another hour before our food was even served. It's set out like a tapas menu, so we ordered a variety of dishes. While the food itself was okay, it arrived all separately instead of together, which was annoying.
I informed the waiting staff that we'd been waiting for ages for our food, and they didn't even apologise; they just said 'oh, okay' and ran off. After I'd told them that we were still waiting on one dish, I got told by the chef that he'd forgotten to do it, so I'd need to wait another five minutes. When I eventually received it, it was in a cracked kitchen bowl, still hot from the microwave.
The staff were inattentive and pretty rude and the food really wasn't worth the hype. Not at all impressed
I've been here twice and both times, been very impressed with the quality of service and the delicious food. The miso soup is the best I've tasted, delicate and flavoursome. Their dish of the day has been satisfying and a good size portion for an excellent price. And the staff friendly and attentive. I'd recommend it to anyone.
My husband and I had a great meal here last night. We liked the ambience, quirky wooden decor and handmade Japanese plates, bowls and cups that the food is served in. The waitresses were friendly and very efficient, some of the dishes were better than others, but that's usual. The lotus root salad was especially good, as was the raw beef. Everything was beautifully fresh and served very quickly. Next time we will be more adventurous and try the razor shell clams and jelly fish that was on the specials menu.
Seating is a bit cramped, on little stools around a long table, or at shelves along the side wall or window, or around the central chef's area. But we liked being seated alongside fellow diners, occasionally comparing notes about different dishes and catching snatches of conversation.
This is a little gem. It feels like a snapshot of authentic Japanese dining in a Soho backstreet. It's places like this that make London the exciting and diverse city it is.
The food here is excellent at least on my visit.
It is a typical subtle Kansai region taste as opposed to the stronger flavoured Kanto Tokyo region taste.
If you are looking for big meals, forget it, Kirazu is catering for a typical Japanese Izakaya experience. Food will not be served quickly as it gets busier and this is typical for a one man operation so if you come in a large group expect to wait.
Yuya San is an excellent cook, and no... I don't know him.
To be able to prepare and cook to that level, on his own, on a very busy friday night and still produce quality tasty food requires talent.
Our waitress/s was excellent and maybe Yuya San had some issues with previous staff in the past but I didn't see it, only in so much as making sure the staff were on the ball with remembering orders etc.
My partner is Japanese and is particularly fussy regarding food. Her happy face said it all.
Yuya's business card refers to himself as Itamae 板前 - Chef - which is a traditional way of describing oneself and is not often used nowadays.
This is authentic Japanese Izakaya food and if you don't like it.....go to Yo-Sushi and drown your food with soya sauce and wasabi!
Just a note but ramen is not available on the menu anymore as of Dec 2014
- Visited December 2014
I had made a reservation a week earlier for 12 people, knowing that it was a very small space. I was assured that it would be no problem and that we would be able to have the main table. We we arrived at Kirazu, we were told our table would be ready in a few minutes. A few minutes later, they came to tell us the booking had been made for 4 people, not 12. They tried to convince me that I had made the mistake when booking. When I asked to talk to the manager, he was rude and absolutely unapologetic. He suggested all 12 of us stand in a corner that could comfortably accommodate 6. Again, with no apologies. We ended up finding another place, which gladly accommodated us in just 30 minutes. It was Dozo, just a couple of streets away. It was excellent, the staff was very helpful and the food was of much better price/quality ratio than at Kirazu.
Went here the other night on a date. It was wonderful. We sat on a small bar by the door on stools as the place was full and we didn't want to wait for a a small space on one of the 2 long tables. It is very cosy so if your looking for intimate privacy don't go. If your looking for a great atmosphere do go! We didn't book, you can although it's not that clear on their website. The staff are very helpful and explain the sort of self service mechanic to you, ticking off the various dishes you want from the tapas menu then handing it in, then picking up your plates and chopsticks. It's all very clean and efficient. Everything was good but i think our favourites were the octopus balls and the seasame lotus flower root chip things, could have eaten 4 bowls of them, like amazing crisp alternatives. We had 8 dishes and 2 dark asahi beers and the whole bill was just under £50. I'd say 1 tapas dish is good shared between 2. I will definitely be going again. Everyone seems to think sushi or ramen with japanese food, but this was refeshingly varied and unique.
Average food and overpriced. Watch out for the green tea, a small cup for £2 and no refills of hot water.
Service very poor - waited 1h 45 minutes for some dishes. Staff rude and unfriendly. Food average. Definately would not reccomend. A very disappointing experience.
Ate here two evenings ago and found the experience very disappointing. Quite a fun atmosphere and the Japanese Belgian brewed beer is a nice touch, but the quality of the food is very poor. Flavours sadly lacking and that's not acceptable for Japanese tapas style portions (which are tiny...don't go here when you are hungry!). Service was friendly by very inefficent. Overall...very poor.
Fantastic value for money. Lovely staff . We really enjoyed at KIRAZU Superb food and excellent Japanese sake. Yummy!!
It was an absolutely wonderful evening. My boyfriend took me for a lovely Japanese meal and it's the best Japanese restaurant we have been to. The food was cooked to perfection , super delicious and also Japanese Sake was brilliant !! Oh my god !!!
After reading about this place I had high hopes and it really didn't disappoint. The service was quick and friendly and helpful with how many dishes we needed to order (6-7 for 2 left us very satisfied). The food didn't all come at once but as we were sharing, this was not a problem. The food was incredible. Some of the best japanese food I have had. Setting was casual and felt relaxed. Sitting by the window was great for people watching too. Highly recommend this place and I will be returning. Go go go!
Unfortunately I was badly disappointed with this place. The interior is the only redeeming feature with beautiful wooden tables and antique keys HOWEVER the prices cannot reflect the minuscule plates, the "home style" cooking was actually not up to much and when I asked for some more hot water for my pot of green tea I was refused and told I needed to buy another pot. Sadly, English skills are lacking but I went with a native Japanese who also commented how awkward the staff were. I love "real" Japanese food but I didn't love this. Apologies but I won't revisit.
After reading Time Out's review of Kirazu, I was very excited to try it out. I decided to make a booking for six people for Friday 23 August. As there is no option for making bookings via email or on the restaurant's website, I decided to phone the day before. Unfortunately, the woman I spoke to didn't speak/understand English very well and I had to repeat myself several times. She eventually put a male colleague on the line (his English was noticeably better) and he was able to confirm my booking for the next day at 20:30. When we arrived at the restaurant the following evening, they had no record or our booking and we left without even getting an apology - only looks of confusion between the wait staff and ourselves. I did notice one free table in the restaurant for four people, but this was promptly given to the group behind us in the queue. At this stage, I won't be giving Kirazu a second chance. My one recommendation to the owners, however, would be to employ English speaking people to answer the phone/take bookings and avoid this kind of confusion in the future.
Extremely slow service. We waited 20 minutes between one dish and the next - and it was a dish of scallop sashimi which did not even require cooking! Food is good, but portions are tiny and overpriced. Food comes in little dishes which are the size you would expect for holding soy sauce. Cooking is simple - there are limitations to what can be done with a blowtorch.
I can safely say that I will not be going back to Kirazu, unless they seriously sort out their service. The restaurant is only very small, and it was full, but there were more than enough waitresses to cope with the demand of customers. It started when we had to wait 30 minutes just to order a bottle of wine. We weren't even handed menus and had to ask the customers next to us if we could have one of theirs. We then had to tell the waitress three times that we'd like to order. We ordered edamame beans, seabream sashimi, sirloin sashimi, scallop sashimi and the grilled aubergine. An hour later some edamame beans and one scallop turned up. We actually finished our whole bottle of wine between two of us and still nothing else came to the table. After two hours of waiting for three tapas dishes and no sign of an apology for the wait, we asked for the bill and said we were leaving. To which we were suddenly met with two free dishes, which we declined. They weren't even what we ordered. I understand it's a new restaurant and you're bound to have a few teething problems, but to not even apologise for the lack of service is just atrocious. I've never left a restaurant mid-meal before, but I feared I was going to starve if I didn't. I was so disappointed, as I had high expectations for this place, and the scallop that we did actually get was delicious, but I will certainly not be going back, nor will I be recommending it to friends. Customer service goes a long way, and the lack of it, can ruin even the best of meals. It doesn't cost anything to be courteous to your customers.
we have visited this place week after it was open. amazing staff . welcoming and very japanese :) (which is a good thing!) l found menu quite confusing especially tapas section that was on a bar/ l wasn't sure if we are suppose to help ourselves or ask them to prepare? it was a bit awkward since staff spoke Japanese English (with very strong accent) but.. l think it has great potential (hopefully by now they have sordet this awkwardness with tapas) so l will def will go back and check! its very authentic place.