This 90 cover restaurant was originally in the Oxo Tower before moving to the eastern end of Old Compton Street in 2007. It has since spawned a sister branch in Clerkenwell. It is styled on the casual izakayas in Japan, serving skewers of meat alongside beer and sake. A Japanese izakaya is more a drinking house that serves a bit of food on the side, and in line with that theme Bincho Yakitori has a wide selection of Japanese whisky. However Bincho Yakitori feels more like a restaurant than a bar. Décor is casual, with bare tables and a grill visible in the centre of the room. The grill uses a mix of Japanese and English charcoal, the former being more highly regarded but with a price to match.
There are no starters or main courses here, just a selection of skewers along with some yakimono (grilled dishes) such as grilled salmon, sardine or mackerel. Grilled mackerel was excellent, with a hint of charcoal and seasoned boldly (14/20). Mizuna salad was also good, Japanese mustard leaves with garlic crisps, toasted pine nuts and a tamari (a variant of soy) dressing. The leaves were fresh, the dressing good and the toasted pine nuts added a nice hint of smokiness (14/20). An assorted set of skewers varied somewhat in quality. Asparagus was carefully cooked and of good quality (14/20) whereas shiitake mushrooms were a little leathery (12/20). Pork belly was enjoyably fatty (14/20) and a tiger prawn was carefully cooked (13/20). Chicken wings with crisp skin (13/20) were better than a skewer of chicken and spring onion, the chicken lacking much flavour (12/20), and salmon was properly cooked but had the usual lack of flavour of most farmed salmon (12/20).
Service was friendly and efficient. The bill came to £19.90 for plenty of food but just tap water to drink. There were some set lunches available at £8.25 - £9 for those on a budget. I liked Bincho Yakitori, which was unprepossessing but delivered some enjoyable food at a fair price.