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Restaurants, Japanese Temple

Time Out says

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

Please note, Yen has now closed. Time Out Food editors, NOVEMBER 2019. 

Sometimes in life – let’s say, if you’re entertaining honoured guests – you need a place for a civilised dinner. And this sleek, minimalist, double-height dining room, which shares its name with Japan’s currency, is just that. Staff are efficient and excruciatingly polite, the way you get in posh hotels. It’s matched by a no-risk menu: a casting call of modern Japanese crowd-pleasers, all displayed in attractive, high-end style (with stiff price tags to match).

There were three stand-out dishes. A salad of tofu and wakame (seaweed) featured misshapen blocks of impossibly silken bean curd, oversized blobs of frothy, zingy ponzu foam and strands of seaweed – layered over other greens – with a nice bite. A plate of four prawn tempura, piled up like a bonfire and with a light, ungreasy batter, was equally unimpeachable. And the use of red miso to marinade French black chicken before chargrilling was absolutely inspired. (The meat is teamed with a pomme purée and cute stack of asparagus: it’s very Paris-meets-Osaka).

I also need to mention the soba. These handmade noodles are apparently what the original Yen in fashionable St Germain de Près made its name with. But on the night of my visit, the eight-strong list of variations was buried towards the back of the menu and none of the supremely well-trained staff mentioned it. After I ordered a bowl of the duck version, I understood why: it wasn’t great. The delicate broth was fine, but the meat bland and the noodles oversoft. At £16 for a small bowl, it’s not good enough.

Still, that’s just the one blip, and Yen isn’t really pitching to a cheap eats kind of crowd. And the room, on a dreary weeknight, was full of chatter coming from an eclectic mix of high-rolling tourists, Japanese businessmen and City boys with glamourpuss girlfriends who looked like they’d got lost on their way to Roka. The one thing they had in common? Bags of, well, you know.


Address: 5 Arundel Street
Transport: Tube: Temple
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £170.
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