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Ikeda

30 Brook Street, London, W1K 5DJ, United Kingdom

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This Japanese restaurant in Brook Street has been running since 1978. It has a little sushi counter with a few seats near the front, and the main dining room further back, with a mix of tables and counter seats directly in front of the chefs. The clientele was almost entirely Japanese. The menu, as so often in Japanese restaurants in London, wide ranging. You could have appetisers, sushi, sashimi, grilled dishes, deep-fried food, Japanese beef, you name it. In Japan itself restaurants frequently specialise, serving just sushi, or just tempura, or sometimes a single ingredients, such as eel e.g. at places like Nodaiwa in Tokyo. Prices at Ikeda were pretty high e.g. grilled eel on rice was a distinctly chunky £36, and chicken teriyaki was £20.

The wine list featured labels such as Meltwater Sauvignon Blanc at £64 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £17, Jean Baptiste Ponzot Montpalais Sauvignon Blanc 2014 at a hefty £90 compared to its retail price of £25 and Les Fleurs de Montblanc Cotes de Thongue 2017 at an absurdly marked up £40 for a bottle that will set you back £6 in a shop. For those with the means, you could indulge with Leflaive Batard-Montrachet at £900 compared to its retail price of £419, or a less marked-up Louis Roederer Cristal 2004 champagne at £300 compared to its current market value of £235. This was a wine list to make you want to drink beer or sake.

Sushi rice was room temperature rather than the optimal body temperature, and the shari (the ball of rice) was rather too loose. At least the rice was not fridge cold, an all too common affliction of sushi in London. The toppings were fine though, with nice eel (unagi), mackerel and quite good tuna (13/20). One minor irritant was that the wasabi offered was quite clearly not real freshly grated wasabi root, but powdered i.e. horseradish with food colouring. At these prices they could have the decency to use real wasabi.

Tonkatsu used Iberico pork and was reasonable, the pork not of the level I have eaten at better tonkatsu joints in Tokyo, the frying less precise, but still perfectly serviceable. The barbecue sauce on the side was fine without quite having the zingy flavour of a specialist Tokyo tonkatsu restaurant like Sugita (12/20). Orange slices served in a hollowed-out orange shell served as dessert, and a very good orange it was too. 

Service was very good, the Japanese staff being polite, attentive and topping up drinks carefully. The bill for one, with just water to drink came to £64, and this is the real issue here. The food is perfectly pleasant if unexceptional, but the pricing is very high. If you had an appetiser, main course and dessert with wine then a typical bill would be £75 or more, which is a lot for a place that can’t be bothered to served real wasabi.

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