The best sushi restaurants in London tend to be on the pricier side; the reality is that top-quality fish is expensive – and this is one instance where you really do get what you pay for. Frankly, it’s worth saving up to try the revelatory menu at Endo at the Rotunda, or the experimental dishes at Kurisu Omakase. If you’re on a budget, though, there are also more and more places opening in the capital dedicated to other elements of Japan’s incredibly diverse cuisine, too, from yakitori specialists such as Junsei to fusion restaurants like Angelina.
Struggling to remember the difference between agedashi and umeboshi? Brush up on your history by ordering a copy of Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, which comprises traditional recipes along with a brief summary of Japan’s unique food culture before, during, and after the transformative Edo period. Speaking of recipes, if you’re going to try to make Japanese dishes at home, be sure to visit the Japan Centre, which recently expanded its flagship Soho site, for ingredients, followed by the ever-brilliant Native & Co shop for homewares.
Read on for Vogue’s guide to the best Japanese restaurants in London.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… an elevated working lunch.
Chisou has been a favourite of the Vogue team for years, and not just because its Mayfair location is a stone’s throw from Vogue House. The set lunch menu here is a bargain – with diners able to have sashimi, miso, tempura, pickles, salad and dessert. The best dish on the menu, though, might be the horenso salad: fresh chilli prawns on a mosaic of spinach leaves, anointed with a yuzu dressing. Just trust us.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… authentic Japanese cuisine in a true neighbourhood restaurant.
The family-run Hampstead restaurant Jin Kichi is nothing much to look at, but the food is exceptional. Take a seat at the robata bar, and dig into succulent yakitori and a collection of tiny, authentic sides: ita wasa (a type of sliced fishcake rarely seen on Western menus), suimono (a clear broth with shiitake, citrus peel, and mitsuba), and hijiki (a brown rubbery seaweed) are our favourites.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… zero-waste, authentic yakitori.
Japan’s meatier dishes often take a backseat to sushi in London, but the newly opened Junsei is keen to change that – offering refined versions of the late-night dishes you would expect to find in a Tokyo izakaya. There’s all manner of zero-waste yakitori (literally: grilled bird) to be had – chicken breast, wing, heart, liver, and gizzard included – but less adventurous diners can also try skewers of padron peppers, eryinghi mushrooms, quail eggs, and more. Everything is prepared over Binchōtan charcoal, made from Japanese oak and largely recognised as the best in the world, with a range of Japanese whisky available for a nightcap.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… whenever Endo at the Rotunda is out of your budget.
Opened in the middle of 2021, Sumi has fast established itself as a Notting Hill hotspot – and no wonder, since it’s technically the (much more affordable) sister restaurant to Endo at the Rotunda. Yasuda Akinori, of Zuma fame, is in charge of the kitchen, making artful dishes such as scallop temaki with hanahojiso flowers – a rare delicacy in Japan. The majority of its nigiri can also be served in the aburi style – ie seared over an open flame – and there’s wagyu beef with charred puntarelle if you’re with anyone who’s sushi-averse.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… discovering the wonders of saké.
Set on the lower ground floor of Belgravia’s Pantechnicon, a five-story emporium devoted to Scandinavian and Japanese design, Sachi has become the fashion crowd’s go-to since launching in 2020, serving unusual maki (trout with mustard leaf, yellowtail with fresh benitade) in a dimly-lit, wood-panelled room complete with a saké cellar. (There’s a dedicated sommelier on hand to answer any questions you may have about the vast collection, or a saké “flight” if you’re keen to try several varieties.) The sashimi and nigiri are excellent, but the vegetables here deserve recognition, too; shishitou peppers with brown rice miso; umeboshi plums with okra; and tofu salad with sea buckthorn, yuzu, and microgreens.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… dinner with a third-generation sushi master.
Endo at the Rotunda is hidden away on the top floor of the former BBC Television Centre in White City (calling to mind Tokyo’s own restaurant scene with its out-of-the-way location). The space itself consists of an 18-seater bar made from 200-year-old Hinoki wood and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass walls, where third-generation sushi master Endo Kazutoshi works his magic over the course of two sittings each Tuesday and Saturday. Every single detail is thought-out: water of a certain pH is used to prepare the rice, which comes directly from Kazutoshi’s village in Japan, while wasabi is flown in from Mount Amagi to maximise freshness.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… delicious sushi with a sense of humour.
If you find most Japanese restaurants intimidating, this Marylebone haunt is a good place to start acquainting yourself with the cuisine. Taka refuses to take itself too seriously – there’s a Fri or Die section on the menu, where one can find popcorn shrimp tempura – and one of its best-loved dishes is a rice bowl served with wagyu dripping and sheets of nori, so you can attempt to make your own temaki (but usually just make… a mess). Also of note: the plant-based section of the menu, which includes a bowl of miso-glazed aubergine and fermented tempura that everyone should order. For a more traditional experience, the Taka team also runs the seven-seater Maru in Mayfair, where a 20-course omakase menu is served daily by Nobu alumnus Taiji Maruyama.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… purists.
Kikuchi first opened in 1998, and has maintained its refreshingly simple offering ever since. Forget California rolls: Chef Masayuki Kikuchi hails from Hokkaido, where he trained for years, and his dishes range from monkfish liver to ebi shinjo. It’s worth going during uni season, from September to December, when sea urchin is central to the menu. If you can, order the uni tempura, which sees Kikuchi wrap an urchin between two pieces of shiso leaf before deep-frying. Exquisite.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… a fusion experience.
The concept behind Angelina sounds odd in theory and works brilliantly in practice. The dishes at this Dalston restaurant fuse Italian and Japanese techniques to create something wholly unique: expect daikon with salsa rossa, stracciatella laced with ponzu, and ricotta drizzled with miso caramel. There are both kaiseki and omakase menus available; spring for the wine pairings for the full experience. Already a convert? Nip into the Golden Gai, a Soho bar from the same team with cocktails that marry the likes of grappa and sake.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… maki with some Brixton flair.
Chris Restrepo spent his childhood in and around his Thai-Colombian parents’ Brixton restaurant Ichiban. Now an adult and a graduate of the Tokyo Sushi Academy, he’s putting everything he learned from them to good use at Kurisu Omakase – Kurisu being the Japanese equivalent of Chris. Each Saturday he pops up at Not Just Another Store, and each Sunday at Ichiban itself, to theatrically present his latest omakase menu, inspired by the catch of the day and the energy of Brixton; one day guests may be presented with trout belly and Thai basil, another with mackerel nigiri topped with CBD-infused caviar. There’s an art to getting a reservation here, but it’s worth it.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… simple, fool-proof classics.
The menu at Clapton’s Uchi is refreshingly limited: a few varieties of maki (the tuna crunch is popular), crispy vegetables tempura, and some refreshing salads, including hijiki seaweed with deep-fried tofu and creamy avocado with walnut dressing. (Try Anata No Uchi, Uchi’s in-house delivery service, if you’re too lazy to go out.) Another great option? Men in Hackney, which is run by the same team. The focus here is on hand-made noodles – ramen, udon, and soba – washed down with a cold Asahi beer at the counter.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… udon noodles worth queuing for.
After opening in Soho a decade ago, Koya has expanded to locations in the City and Hackney as well. The speciality here is without question the udon noodles, which come with or without broth. It’s more than worth going early in the morning, though, to start the day with a pot of hot Japanese tea and their breakfast options: try the kake, udon topped with homemade pickles, or the kinoko, a rice-based porridge served with mushrooms. In the mood for something slightly quirkier? Their “English Breakfast” with a miso soup on the side is excellent.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… feeling like you’re in Kyoto.
Daisuke Hayashi brings decades of experience at Japan’s world-renowned Kikunoi Honten restaurant to bear in the kitchen at Roketsu, which opened in Marylebone at the end of 2021. No detail is overlooked here – even the Sukiya-style interiors were built in Kyoto then transported over to W1H. Priced at £190 a person, the 10-course kaiseki menu takes dashi (ie dried fish stock) as its foundation, and is inspired by the wabi philosophy and aesthetic – even the tableware varies by season in accordance with wabi principles.
The best Japanese restaurant in London for… a familial experience.
Sushi Tetsu occupies a particularly revered status among London’s most exclusive restaurants; there are whole features devoted to the art of securing a table at this seven-person bolthole in Clerkenwell, where celebrated Japanese chef Toru Takahashi presents an omakase menu while his wife, Harumi Takahashi, delivers a true masterclass in the art of hosting. While getting a reservation at Sushi Tetsu is a battle, meals at its pale wooden counter are delightfully informal; you will remember your visit as much for the warm conversation with the Takahashis as the impeccable nigiri and maki.
Counting down the days until your reservation? Here are the products to tide you over at home.