On a residential Hackney street, someone’s Pinterest board has come to life. At least, that’s how this Japanese restaurant feels: from the brushed gold countertops, untreated wooden stools and pretty glass vases with delicate foliage, to the square cards that make up the specials board which, naturally, are held together by mismatched bulldog clips. The lighting is soft – perfect for a date – the music soothing and the atmosphere relaxing. If it wasn’t for the obligatory wino staggering about outside, it all might feel a bit too perfect.
The menu, while not exactly a tome, boasts all the usual suspects: thickly sliced, melt-in-the-mouth tuna sashimi; piping-hot, fatty karage (fried chicken) with an interesting chilli-kick; succulent charred pork skewers. But it was the veggie dishes that really stood out. A ‘seaweed and carrot salad’ might sound like food for an amphibious bunny, but it was deep, earthy and full of umami satisfaction. Mushroom and spinach nigiri might sound bland, but had a wonderful fleshiness (they contain huge pine mushrooms) and came packed with sesame. And the texture of the sweet miso aubergine was perfect: soft but still solid and not in the least bit sloppy. Whatever you do, ask for the black rice and tempura broccoli maki – a rainbow wheel of veg and rice wrapped in crisp nori, the lightly-battered broccoli giving it all a satisfying crunch. Technically a ‘special’, it would be a real shame if this dish doesn’t become a permanent fixture.
The attention to detail in the décor is reflected in the presentation of each dish – everything is mouth-wateringly beautiful and served on dainty crockery with banana leaves. It’s an almost perfect place. It’s just a shame that on that night, the pacing was so off. The food arrived in an onslaught and the table soon resembled a Tudor banquet, meaning that the meant-to-be-hot-and-cold food was quickly all the same as the water on Mariah Carey’s rider – room temperature.