Taro

Restaurants, Japanese Soho
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(7user reviews)
2 Love It
Save it

Budget Japanese restaurant, with another branch in Balham.

Posted:

Venue name: Taro
Contact:
Address: 61 Brewer Street
London
W1F 9UW
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Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|7
1 person listening
Kateryna V
Tastemaker

The interiors are very basic. The menu features all the traditional Japanese staples (sushi, sashimi, ramen, bento boxes). Now, there are hordes of reviewers out there who hail this place as one of the last stalwarts of traditional inexpensive Japanese cooking. That always makes me wonder how many of those reviewers actually visited Japan to pass this kind of judgement. I haven't. I will therefore base my review on what I can objectively evaluate. But let me just say: I sat at the counter facing open kitchen to watch the chefs churn out the courses. They were four and only one of them was Asian.

I had agedashi tofu and a vegetarian ramen. Both arrived at the same time and looked, smelled and tasted nice. The miso broth of the ramen and the dashi broth of agedashi tofu were on a less salty side yet nicely balanced. However (to address the claim Taro's cooking is cheap) the veggie ramen felt a bit scant: it literally contained noodles, broth, two pods of mange tout (seriously??) and negligible quantities of seaweed, grated carrot and soya sprouts. For 2 pounds more you get a much better offering at Bone Daddies, featuring ample quantities of more expensive ingredients (i.e. their mushroom ramen is laden with Japanese mushrooms). The noodles were of a very cheap instant store bought variety (as opposed to, for example, made in house noodles at Tonkotsu, which, again, cost you just a couple quid more).

In general, this felt like a classical trap of London foodie scene: as prices in general are high, many people stick to cheaper options without realising there are significantly better experiences to be had for marginally higher price. I, for one, will be sticking to Bone Daddies and Tonkotsu. You pay extra £2 for bigger mains, but you get more of quality ingredients and also better toilets (the ones at Taro look like a construction site).

Finally, the bill arrived handwritten and without the breakdown, so not sure how that would work for larger groups splitting the bill. They charge service too. 

PS: to give Taro another try (it does have the benefit of being conveniently located and you can eat there quickly) I tried to stop for a meal at around 3.30 pm on Thursday (a super quiet time with just 3 double tables taken). The waiter (or owner?) tried to squeeze me into a super inconvenient looking table for two right in the passageway. All my please for a better bigger table (again, the venue was empty) ended in nothing. I left. I will not return. They very clearly forget they only have business because they have our custom.


Jenni D

Inexpensive and delicious. I love Taro! One thing's for sure - you definitely won't walk away hungry. Their soups, boxes and sushi are all worth a try, and after your first visit you're sure to a be a returning customer. Inside, the restaurant itself isn't the fanciest but one bite of their food and you really won't care.

timothy w

Great common or garden western take on everyday japanese dishes. Sushi and Sashimi are great. Teriyaki and ramen dishes are good soul food or hangover recovery dishes

Kim Fleming

I have eaten in this place since early 2000's and its amazing. I had lunch from here yesterday and forgot how wonderful the food was, so I am back to my 2 times a week at Taros ! Oh no, great value for lunch and quick for work lunch if you dont have much time. 

Michèle

This place has simple low key cafe style decor and consistently good food. When I worked in the area this was a fail safe post work spot for casual mid week dinner or lunch. Would recommend

Hillman Mondegreen

Taro is a jewel in Soho largely because it is one of the few proper places to eat unpretentious good food. The decor is like a normal restaurant, the service is like a normal restaurant, the prices are like a normal restaurant and the food is like a very good restaurant. I live round the corner and go here a lot. I personally recommend the veg gyoza as a side plate sharer to your main, eaten whilst sitting up at the counter at the front watching the food being made by the un-hip chefs in an amazingly calm and efficient fashion. And you'll recognise Mr Taro himself not because he arrives in a ferrari or because he shouts at the staff or conducts himself like the owner, but only by the caricature of his face on the logo. He works there every night printing receipts and waiting the tables with the other staff.

Annie

Large portions for the price. The food is amazing! Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a great Japanese in Soho.