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Kikuchi in Retrospect

My other bib and I were walking away from Kikuchi, a small Japanese restaurant on Hanway Street, not quite sure if the meal we’d just had was brilliant.

Why? Because we had just paid a staggering amount of £118 for dinner. Were we tricked by the humble look of the Kikuchi? To be honest, I still wasn’t sure.

On the plus side, the staff gave up two 5-pound vouchers to be used on our next visit. I would usually be delighted but at the point of receiving these vouchers, I was still astounded by how much our dinner cost.

What could I (or we?) do with £118? I was running through my food pricing chart in my head. Say, a lunch for two at three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester with free water, two glasses of wine per person, including service, would cost just about £120, or we both could go for the set lunch menu at our beloved Arbutus TWICE!! £118 would be an equivalence of one hundred and ten pieces of Pierre Herme macaroons or Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Was my meal at Kikuchi worthy of my £118?

Thinking of my Pork Tonkatsu with Radish and Ponsu, I felt it wasn’t bad. The pork was tender. I couldn’t quite tell if the pork was crispy or not because the pieces, when arrived, were soaked in the rather delicious Ponsu dressing.

We also had Stir-Fried Pork Belly with Kimchi. I liked it; I didn’t rave about it. The flavours were there. The veggies were nicely cooked. The heat from the kimchi was very nice, too.

Our grilled marinated eel was really lovely: juicy and meaty. The marinate just released such an intensely salivating sweet flavour when mixed with steamed rice. Plus, we detected crispness on some part of the skin.

Just before the eel, I was delighted to see–though not as much delighted to taste–Kikuchi’s gigantic piece of Egg (Tamago) Nigiri. The piece was almost 3 inches long and 2.5 inches thick. I swore I didn’t put all of that in my mouth in one go!!

Taste-wise, the Tamago didn’t bounce, nor was it spongy enough. It was a fair attempt, but for a Tamago fanatic like me, I would have craved for something much better.

There they were, the main components of my “bankruptcy” meal. We did order four pieces of O-Toro (Very Fatty Tuna), two O-Toro Tataki, two Botan Ebi, two Razor Clams and two Tamago. I must give some credit–and my credit card at the end of the meal–to Kikuchi’s super fresh, heavenly fatty O-Toro, the best one I hadn’t had for such a long time. If you could see the marbling effect on the fish, you knew straightaway it was worth £5 apiece.

OMG I even forgot we did order the Steamed Clams. It was rather forgettable, not bad, but couldn’t compete with the one at Koya.

I also ordered a cold starter of Scallop, Japanese Ginger, Seaweed and Citron Miso, which I found creative and much appetising. The lemon-scented miso oozed out very lovely aroma, which once combined with the ginger, worked brilliantly. Perhaps this was my downfall of the evening. I anticipated too much after this very good starter, but the rest of my meal didn’t deliver in the same manner.

Looking at the sushi master behind the counter and the impressive display of fresh fish, I was salivating. I had read good things about Kikuchi and expected a very solidly great dinner. I had been starving all day for this!!

Seated at the table and greeted by Kikuchi’s very friendly staff, I felt welcomed. My tummy began to rumble. Sadly, towards the end of the meal, the courteous service proved to be ineffectual. I had to ask and wait to have my tea refilled three times, and some order was forgotten. I’d rather have a moody server who constantly fills my teacup. This wasn’t worth the 10% service charge at all. I also didn’t order any desserts.

With all that said, I still have two £5 vouchers to spend at Kikuchi, an equivalence of two pieces of O-Toro Nigiri.

Any taker? X

 

Enough said ….

My head rating says, “5 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “4 out of 10″.

 

KIKUCHI

14 Hanway Street
London
W1T 1UD

Tel. 020 7637 7720

NOTE: I have two £5 vouchers to give out. Give me a shout (via comments) and I’ll post you them :)

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