Following on from my adventure to Kimchi Cult, I had the chance to visit (well revisit, I’ve been once before and I’ll mention that again soon enough) Nippon Kitchen. Located next door to Wagamama, this fabulous restaurant boasts a wealth of authentic Japanese fare. The setting is wonderful, we checked with out waitress and the building used to be a bank. The wood panelled walls contrast beautifully with the paper lanterns and gentle touches of Japanese culture adorning the walls. From artfully designed coy carp, to traditional Japanese Kabuki theatre masks, these little touches bring the room to life.
The restaurant was busy, but we were seated without a problem. The staff are friendly without being overly intrusive.
Let’s start with drinks. The menu is simple, but with a fair amount of choice. Many Japanese spirits are to be found, from umeboshi plum liqueurs to sake. There’s even a Japenese inspired gin, distilled in Scotland. I chose a cocktail, as I usually do. It was called Tomataro, a deliciously sweet mixture of apricot puree, bourbon, and a few other delicious things. It really it a fantastic drink. Nick settled on an Asahi beer (a dry Japanese beer), whilst Sheetal was very virtuous and drank copious amounts of green tea (which for £2.50 comes with unlimited refills).
Now for the main event. For anyone who knows me, it comes as no surprise that I ordered ramen and some sashimi. “Ramen and sashimi? Together?!” I hear you exclaim. Anyone who knows me knows that I would eat sushi/sashimi for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could. Sadly I can’t afford such a luxurious (and quite probably mercury heavy) diet. This coupled with the fact that my boyfriend hates fish (yes there’s definitely something wrong with him), means sushi/sashimi is a rare treat. I chose the sashimi moriawase, which I had on my first visit as well. It’s a mixed plate, you can choose three of the sashimi types that they offer. I had salmon, tuna, and seabass. Previously I had seabass, tuna, and surf clams. Sadly on my most recent visit, the surf clams were not available and the alternative was octopus. Now I like octopus but in sashimi form, I can take it or leave it. The fish is fresh and so full of flavour, served with soy sauce and wasabi it’s just divine. The plates are beautifully presented, the fish wrapped in on itself like a flower bud.
Now onto the ramen. I’m a great believer that to judge the quality of a Japanese restaurant you need to try the ramen. Typically seen and a quick and simple meal in Japan, it is by far one of my favourite things to eat. I chose the Shoyu soup noodles with salmon (and udon, I just adore the chewy texture). It consisted of a very basic and simple miso broth, deliciously salty and full of umami flavour. Served with a variety of shredded vegetables, nori, and one of my favourite things a tea stained boiled egg. The portion itself was more than generous, with nearly two whole salmon fillets bobbing about in the luscious broth. I added a few drops of the most delicious and rich chilli oil to add a bit of spice. Be warned, do not be too zealous with the oil, its got a fair old kick to it. Last time I chose the spicy soup noodles with pork. Now if you want a dish to clear your sinuses, this is the one for you. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely delicious, but it was pretty hot.
Nick ordered the teriyaki chicken with rice. As usual, he does enjoy this dish. I can attest that the sauce is well balanced and sticky. The rice is perfectly cooked, maybe a little plentiful for the amount of sauce, but generosity is not a sin. The light batter was lovely and crispy and added a nice texture alongside the rice and pickled vegetables. Suffice to say he hoovered it up with gusto and enjoyed every bite.
Stupidly I forgot to take a photo of Sheetal’s katsu curry. Another well-known Japanese dish consisting of mild and sweet yellow curry sauce with potatoes and carrots. I must admit it’s not one of my favourites. Similar to Chinese curries, I find them lacking a bit of substance and fragrance. I’m more partial to a Thai or Malaysian curry. Sheetal enjoyed her curry, evidenced by the fact she’d eaten a fair chunk of it before I remembered I needed a photo.
So would I recommend Nippon Kitchen? Hell yes! The food is delicious and plentiful, and very reasonably priced. They have some great lunch offer and 10% off takeaway. The menu is extensive, and the sushi choices are plentiful.