One of the things I particularly like about London’s Japanese restaurant scene is that, despite how many places I’ve dined at, it doesn’t feel like I’ve tried everything. Yes, sashimi and sushi may be everywhere but it’s easy to stumble across a restaurant where the food’s been marinated in a special sauce or served in a different way.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when my friend and I took advantage of an eight menu deal at Kiri, courtesy of Time Out, but I ended up being surprised by a number of dishes.
The restaurant itself feels intimate has lots of little nooks and hidden corners, making it an ideal place for a date. It never felt too noisy or rushed, which is a feat for a restaurant so close to Oxford Circus, and I can’t fault the friendly staff for their attentiveness.
I’m a big fan of having lots of little tasty dishes – tapas style – and the food at Kiri is all about sharing and most of our dishes were sharing portions. Inevitably, there’ll be some fighting for the last few bits, so make sure you know how to use your chopsticks deftly.
The highlights for me were the saboten hirame usuzukri (thin sliced fluke with truffle soy sauce), hotate to ebi no gratin (creamy crab, scallop and prawn gratin), rock shrimp tempura with spicy mayo and nasu dengaku (miso glazed aubergine). If you want something meatier, the honetsuki ribeye steak with yakiniku sauce is essential eating, followed by mochi ice cream. Ice cream is also essential, obviously.
The remaining dishes on our Time Out menu were kunsei maguro tataki (apple smoked seared tuna with onion sauce), geso age (batterd squid tentacles with mushroom dip) and kimchee fried rice. I wasn’t too keen on the squid, which I found a bit chewy, but it was covered in lovely breadcrumbs so the plate was still taken away empty. If you’re not having a huge splash out meal but a nice dinner with friends or a date, I would say four or five courses between you is adequate, assuming you leave room for dessert!
If you’re more for drinking than eating, Kiri has a very good drinks list. It has a decent range of Japanese beers, umeshu and shochu. I’m always partial to umeshu and a big glass of Kitagawa Honke costs £6.50-£8, which isn’t bad for central London prices at all.
I’d happily go back to Kiri for a quiet dinner out and a few drinks. Dishes start from £5, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally spending more than you thought. Plus, when the bill comes, it’s served in an old-school manga book!