Kiraku opened in March 2006, and serves Japanese food to the denizens of Ealing, which has a sizeable Japanese community due to the Japanese school there. Kiraku has a garish shop-front and indeed its tables were arrayed rather like a school classroom. The menu at lunch here is generally a series of set menu choices rather than much in the way of a la carte. A sashimi set lunch cost £16, a fried chicken set lunch £9.50, each menu coming with salad, miso soup and fruit. Kirin or Sapporo beer was £3.70. In the evenings prices are a little higher but still very fair. What follows are brief notes from a meal in August 2012.
Sushi of tuna and eel was pleasant, the rice at the correct body temperature, but was nothing remarkable. To be fair, my last sushi was in Sapporo, so it was always going to be a bit of a come-down back in London (3/10). Deep fried chicken was served with a good salad, the chicken properly cooked, the salad nicely dressed (3/10). However the best dish by far was the grilled mackerel, two pieces served simply with a slice of lemon, the mackerel very fresh and accurately grilled, the seasoning just right; just as at previous visits, it was as if this dish had magically appeared from a classier kitchen (6/10). Service was friendly, and the bill came to just £30, including beer, which seemed to me very fair indeed.
Below are notes from a meal in October 2011
This was my second meal at Kirkau, and I was able to try some different dishes. Raw tuna and avocado (£6.80) was enjoyable, the avocado ripe, the tuna of good quality and resting in a pleasant soy-based stock (3/10). Mackerel marinated in ginger and miso (£7.20) featured excellent mackerel that had nicely absorbed the flavours of the marinade (4/10).
I enjoyed pork wrapped in breadcrumbs (£9.50) and then fried, served with a simple salad and some mustard. This was accurately cooked and tasty (4/10). Corn-fed chicken teriyaki (£9.80) was also pleasant, if not in the league of some of the other dishes; the chicken was cooked well and the sauce was enjoyable (3/10). My favourite dish was marinated eel with Japanese pepper (£6.80), the eel having tender texture and great flavour, its marinade rich with a hint of spice (5/10). Overall this was another excellent meal, with genuinely good food at very fair prices indeed. As before, I was the only western diner here.
Below are notes from my first meal here.
I went on Saturday lunch and the place was almost full; I was the only non-Japanese person in the room. Tempura of prawn was excellent, the prawns of good quality and cooked through nicely, the batter light and in no way greasy (4/10). A side salad of frisee lettuce had a well-judged dressing (3/10) and miso soup had a well-flavoured stock (4/10). The star, though, was the grilled mackerel. The fish (supplied by Atari-Ya, the leading London supplier of fish to Japanese restaurants) was sparklingly fresh, with excellent flavour and timed beautifully. This was such a simple dish, and yet there are plenty of top-end French restaurants who would struggle to grill a piece of fish this accurately (6/10).
For now I will score this 4/10 to be conservative, as I only tried a limited number of dishes. However I suspect that this is a mean score, and I will certainly be back. The bill came to £26 but I did rather over-order. I only came here because (apologies for the name dropping) Heston Blumenthal had recommended this place highly to me when I last spoke to him. He and the Japanese community of Ealing appear to be on to something.