If you've been hit by a sudden hankering for gyoza, London's Japanese scene doesn't disappoint. While just a few years ago you were hard pressed to find any options beyond the usual sushi, today you can treat yourself to everything from Hawaiian poké to Hakata ramen. Here are five of the most inspiring options.
Sushi gets a hand-rolled twist at Yoobi. London's first 'temakeria' is devoted to the temaki style of sushi, featuring a single crispy sheet of nori seaweed wrapped around perfectly seasoned rice and the filling of your choice. It's all presented in a neat, portable cone-shaped roll. The menu offers a vibrant fusion of Brazilian and Japanese flavours, using locally grown vegetables and sustainably sourced fish. This ethical sushi is no less delicious for its high standards. Highlights include the citrus salmon roll dressed up with avocado, chives and yuzu mayo. Maki lovers don't despair – you can still chow down on the usual eight-piece set of rolls if you wish. Vegetarians, you're not forgotten either. The avocado and asparagus temaki with white miso sauce is a far cry from the usual afterthought of a limp cucumber roll.
2. Shoryu Ramen
If you had a late one last night, nothing cures what ails you like a steaming bowl of ramen. Not that there's ever a bad time for ramen. It doesn't get more authentic in London than at Shoryu, which prepares steaming bowls of noodle soup in the Hakata tradition coming all the way to you from Fukuoka City, Japan. Pork bones are simmered down until they've infused the liquid with a rich, nutrient-dense bone broth. Add toothsome handmade noodles, BBQ pork, wood ear mushrooms and fiery strips of ginger to this silky-smooth tonkotsu stock and you've got nirvana in a bowl. One taste and you'll be hooked.
3. Bone Daddies
Shoryu gets down to noodly business with their soup, but Bone Daddies offers a playful, rock-and-roll take on the classic ramen bar. Inspired just as much by downtown New York as the cuisine of Japan, the food here goes big and bold. Bone Daddies' tonkotsu broth is simmered for no less than 20 hours. And if the mega-condensed flavour's somehow not intense enough for you, you'll be able to turn it up to top volume with add-ons like chilli oil, garlic and homemade kimchee. There's even a smoky vegetarian broth with long-simmered shiitake mushrooms and leeks. Need to cool down? Try the refreshing sides like smashed cucumbers and soft shell crab to balance out the heat.
4. Tombo Poké and Matcha Bar
Say poké what? This Hawaii-meets-Japan speciality is everywhere at the moment, consisting of raw fish in a soy sauce-based marinade served up with a garland of fresh garnishes. It's like the beautiful lovechild between ceviche and sushi. One of the latest and greatest poké bars to hit the London scene is Soho's Tombo Poké and Matcha Bar. Build your own bowl to order with marinated salmon, teriyaki chicken or veggies, lavished in a tasty marinade. It's all served over your choice of courgette noodles, black & white rice or sushi rice. But wait, there's more. Top off your meal with Tombo's signature, earthy green matcha tarts and brownies.
The brainchild of the talented team behind Chisou, Kiri is a new hotspot that's quickly attracting the eyes of London foodies. It offers small plates of food in the Izakaya tradition – think Japanese gastropub or tapas bar. What Kiri really excels at is cranking up the umami factor to 11 with each small platter. Condiments like ponzu sauce and spicy mayonnaise add unbelievable flavour to simple thinly sliced fish. Korean influences shine through with the addition of kimchi, while a rich shiitake miso broth lures in the veggies.