Central London

Published on February 2nd, 2018 | by Ben Southwood

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Sakagura, Mayfair

In London, Japanese food is still mostly limited to ramen—which it does increasingly well—and sushi—which is either concentrated at the extreme top end of the market (The Araki, Sushi Tetsu, Uni), or is cheap takeaway lunch food (Wasabi, Itsu). There are whole genres of food, common in Japan, that are entirely unrepresented in the UK, at least if my Instagram feed is anything to go by.

That means that there is a temptation for a Japanese restaurant here to touch all the bases, rather than specialising in one specific thing, as might be more common back in the Fatherland. Usually, this has the predictable result of ending up like butter spread over too much bread—but based on my recent visit to Sakagura, that isn’t the case there.

Sakagura, just off Regent Street on that little closed loop road—Heddon Street—styles itself as primarily a sake bar, and does fall prey to some of the ills of having too big of a menu, and too many priorities. But it does the things it focuses on pretty well, with a wide range of sake you just couldn’t find elsewhere nearby, and also offering flights of multiple sakes so you can get a more two- or three-dimensional idea of the revered drink. Our cocktails were competent and balanced too—not too sweet, not too strong.

We ate a steak of Australian wagyu beef (£25 for 150g, compared to £60 for 150g of through-and-through Japanese stuff from kyushu) which was perfectly cooked and deeply-flavoured from juicy fat, if not all that much better from a good piece of aged Dexter. And we ate some very decent karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken thighs), juicy and with, if I remember correctly, a zingy yuzu mayo.

I can’t guarantee, of course, that they manage tempura, robata grilling, and even sushi as well, but based on what I saw, I’d expect a competent and enjoyable, if not mind-blowing display, in line with the solid, but not hefty prices. As an aside, I have to apologise that my phone was broken that day, and my photos are terrible.

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