4 Devonshire Road, London, W4 2HD, United Kingdom

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This little restaurant opened in early 2017, just opposite La Trompette in a road just off the main Chiswick High road. With just five tables, it is owned by a Japanese couple: Yukari Hikichi runs the front of house and her husband Nobu Hikichi is the chef. This is their first restaurant, with Rokkon serving a variety of Japanese food styles. You can order sushi, tempura and donburi, teriyaki and more, and there are daily specials as well.  Set dinners were priced from £30 to £35. The name “Rokkon” literally means “six souls” from the kanji characters, but I am advised by a Japanese friend that in this context it means the six feelings that a human has in their soul or spirit.

Chicken karaage was pleasant enough, a trio of pieces of chicken that had been deep-fried. It wouldn’t stand up well by comparison to the versions in specialist tempura restaurant in Tokyo, as the batter was less than ethereally light, but it was decent enough (12/20). Eel donburi was grilled unagi or fresh water eel (as opposed to anago, the salt water variety) on a bed of rice. This is a classic dish, the cooking juices seeping into the rice, and the eel itself was cooked nicely and avoided dryness (pushing 13/20).  In Tokyo eel is a delicacy and you can find restaurants, such as Nodaiwa and Jubako, that serve nothing but eel, prepared in various ways.

Miso soup was shiro style (white miso) rather than the richer red variety and to me tasted rather thin, though perhaps this is a matter of personal taste. A few pickled vegetables were barely pickled, so for example the carrot tasted pretty much like a raw carrot, given how little vinegar there was.

At a second meal I tried scallops fried in garlic butter. The scallops had quite decent sweetness, but were cold in the middle. I am happy to eat my scallops either raw or cooked, but partly cooked like this did not seem ideal. Moreover the scallops were not perfectly trimmed, one in particular having some hard side muscle still attached (11/20). Prawn tempura featured some quite nice prawns that were properly cooked, but the batter was rather heavy and quite pallid (11/20). Sushi of snow crab and also akami tuna had some issues. The seafood, supplied by Atari-ya, was fine, but the rice was fridge cold instead of being body temperature as it should be. This is a schoolboy error when it comes to sushi, and something that happens all too often in the UK. I don’t know whether sushi chefs in the UK just don’t think their gaijin (non-Japanese) customers will notice, or simply don't care. The “wasabi” applied to the rice was no such thing, just made from green coloured powdered horseradish rather than being freshly grated wasabi root. Sure, real wasabi is expensive, but there is a UK supplier of it these days, so again to me this just says to me that the chef doesn’t think his customers would know the difference (11/20 sushi only because the seafood was quite good). 

Service was efficient and pleasant, if not particularly friendly. In just about any restaurant in Japan a customer will be greeted by a welcome shout of “Irasshaimase” (“come on in”) and a smile but here you are just seated and brought a menu. At the first lunch I had here the bill came to £16 per person for lunch before tip with just water to drink, but the second one was £42 all in as it involved pricier ingredients.  If you came in the evening and had a set dinner with something to drink then a typical cost per head might be around £40 or so, but you could easily spend more. This is not wildly expensive but then this is quite simple cooking, and the sushi (at least the “shari” i.e. the base rice rather than the ”neta” topping) was pretty poor. The best dish I tried over the two meals was the eel. The overall score was between 11/20 and 12/20, pulled up slightly by the eel donburi. Comparing this to restaurants in Tokyo is unrealistic, but I prefer Kiraku or Atari Ya, or indeed the izakaya food at the Watermans Arms, all of which are within a mile or two of here.

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