Places To Eat In London: Eat Tokyo, Notting Hill
I think these days we focus too much on pretty, Instagram-able food and restaurants, and don’t spend enough time talking about delicious, good value and insanely delicious eats. So, today I’m going to share what I ate for lunch on Sunday at Eat Tokyo, where we had a veritable mountain of delicious bento, teriyaki, sushi, sashimi, tempura and miso for lunch, stuffing our faces for just under £20 a head. They have branches in Notting Hill (where we went for our alternative Sunday lunch), Hammersmith, Golders Green, Soho, Holborn, Covent Garden and a takeaway in Cricklewood, so find your nearest joint, grab and friend and go check them out!
We started with a delicious pot of green tea and a plate of spicy salmon rolls. I think the number one reason I was such a big fan of the sushi and sashimi at Eat Tokyo is that every roll, nigiri and sashimi slice has the most generous amount of delicious, delicate and fresh fish I’ve had in my sushi for a while! Not the best spicy rolls I’ve had (I find they’re better with a spicy sauce rather than chilli powder), but still rather excellent – I think alongside my bento I’ll be getting the salmon avocado rolls next time, which I almost ordered instead!
I went all out sushi and sashimi with my bento box, which included a Japanese dressed salad, tempura of salmon, king prawn, sweet potato and courgette, tuna and roe maki rolls, yellow tail, tuna and salmon nigiri, and mixed sashimi including tamago (not raw fish but still delicious!), salmon, tuna, king prawn, crab stick, yellow tail, mackerel, salmon roe, and cuttlefish on a bed of sushi rice. Wow it was a lot of delicious food, I think the most expensive at around £18? The sushi was good, and the tempura beautifully light and crisp – the salmon was particularly delicious, full of flavour and impossibly flaky. The star for me though was the big, meaty chunks of sashimi and roe. Both our bentos also came with a nice cup of miso soup.
It was all perfect, but if you’re going to individual nigiri to go with a different bento, I need to give a massive shout out to the mackerel, so full of oily flavour and a real surprise after all the salmon, tuna and yellowtail, and the utter star of the bento, the cuttlefish. There are so many ‘pleasing’ textures in Asian cuisine that are so alien to Western palate, so just bear with me on this one! The flavour is rich and oily, almost unctuous, and the level of chew and mouthfeel feels slimy at first, but once you start chewing, unusually, you realise that this is a really good thing, rather than the bad we’re programmed with. Keep an open mind and give it a go as it is something really different, and you’ll probably be as pleasantly surprised as I was!
Eddie went for the what I think was the best value bit of lunch, coming in at £9 for the chicken teriyaki bento. Wow that mountain of saucy, caramalised, tender chicken was amazing, some of the best I’ve ever had. Served with a pile of fluffy sushi rice, two mako rolls, a salad and a portion of aged tofu, I think it is a great lunch option if you’re not in the mood for fish and you’re feeling overwhelmed by the massive binder-style menu. I’m getting this one with a sushi roll or some sides instead of a full on fish bento for sure next time.
To round things off (read: to make sure we were so full we could barely move on our way back to the tube station!) we got two absolutely killer sides. I’m utterly obsessed with wakame sesame seaweed salad so that was a obvious must, but I have to taking Eddie who was already in the know for introducing me to the very best thing I’ve eaten in London this year so far. Whatever you do, don’t eat at Eat Tokyo without getting the miso aubergine. I think the secret must be the type of miso they use, as once cooked down until it is spoon soft, the aubergine becomes so rich, so dense and so buttery I would honestly be on cloud nine if I successfully managed to replicate it myself at home. It was super addictive, and I’d honestly be happy just eating it plain with rice for breakfast every single day. I think it would take months for me to get bored!
Where else in London should I be looking for really delicious, cheap and authentic food that is otherwise overlooked because it is not being served up in a bright flashy restaurant designed almost specifically for people to take pictures of and share on Instagram?