Chisou Mayfair – Japanese

Classy Japanese food without any pomp

The grand finale of our day out ‘west’ (taking in the Summer Exhibition 2017 and a few cocktails) was a meal at Chisou. The main reason for choosing this Mayfair restaurant was seeing the grilled unagi (eel) dish on their menu which I’ve only had once as a main course (rather than as a sushi/nigiri topping) in Japan a few months ago. I love eel done in the Japanese smoked style with a sticky sauce – it’s up there as one of my all-time favourite foods.

So I’ve really been looking forward to eating here – would it (could it) live up to my hopes?

Small, appealing Japanese-style interior – main restaurant

Entering the main restaurant, it’s a small Japanese-style space with counter-seating and a few tables with Japanese wooden benches (the ones with lids so you can store your bags and coats inside, and keep the floor area tidy). But we were taken through to an even smaller backroom with closely arranged tables and no windows.

Befitting a hot, summer’s day we picked a chilled saké that goes really well with seafood, a Fisherman saké (more info here) @ £51.00 for a 720ml bottle. This went incredibly well with the food we ordered (mostly fish). Sipping from the small saké glasses, it seemed to last forever too.

Wagyu steak skewers

Crispy, fried gyoza

We ordered a few dishes to share, starting with edamame – young soy beans served with sea salt @ £4.50, wagyu kushi yaki – two wagyu steak skewers with teriyaki sauce @ £13.20 and gyoza – five crispy, fried chicken dumplings @ £7.90.

Next to arrive was the sashimi omakase selection – five kinds of chef’s choice ‘gohin sashimi’ @ £28.90. Totally divine and worth sharing two photos from different angles:

Gohin sashimi – tuna, mackerel, yellow tail, prawns, salmon and wasabi

Gohin sashimi –  tuna, mackerel, yellow tail, prawns, salmon

And then the much-anticipated grilled plates: saikyo yaki a ‘creamy’ black cod marinated in white miso paste @ £21.40 and unagi kabayaki – sea eel fillet in a sweet kaba yaki sauce @ £28.30.

Grilled creamy black cod marinated in white miso paste

Unagi kabayaki – smoked fillet of eel in a sticky sauce

Our waiter was charming – when I’d initially asked about the recommended amount of food for two to share (particularly sashimi portions) his advice was along the lines of ordering too much food is a shame but wanting more, we can easily fix. I liked that.

As an afterthought we ordered a portion of rice @ £3.40, to go with the grilled dishes. It arrived within moments.

Nice bathroom

Saké glasses and holders

For the sake of a thorough review (ahem) we ordered a bowl of ice-cream to share – the black sesame was particularly nice:

Ice-cream – Madagascar vanilla, black sesame and green tea

Partition between tables – fortunately, a cute little girl/toddler who “loved beans” (edamame soy beans) sat next to me; one even got flicked into my rice bowl which was amusing. But if you don’t like chatting to strangers over your dinner, this place may not be for you…

The verdict: Really high quality, excellent food and great menu options. The kind of ‘fine dining’ that doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. I’ll be back for the unagi (eel) and black cod again. Hopefully soon. And I’ll request a table in the main restaurant.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
– Type: Japanese
– Address: 4 Princes Street, London
– Postcode: W1B 2LE
– Nearest station: Oxford Circus
– Website + menus: Chisou Mayfair website
– Photos on flickr: images of Chisou Mayfair
– Location: Chisou Mayfair map

Chisou Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bincho unagi restaurant in Ginza – eely eely good

Hitsumabushi grilled eel meal – Bincho in Ginza 備長 銀座店

I’ve been looking forward to visiting an unagi (freshwater eel) restaurant all holiday. And Bincho in Marronier Gate – at the top of Tokyo Hands department store – was worth the wait. I found it listed under best unagi restaurants in Ginza on the picrumb food blog – a reliable food directory in my experience, and one I recommend.

We had hitsumabushi – chopped broiled eel cooked over charcoals with a secret tasty soy flavoured sauce, on top of white rice – really crispy and absolutely gorgeous. Japanese eel is right up there as one of my most favourite foods.

Hitsumabushi menu at Bincho Ginza aka. Binchou
ひつまぶし備長 銀座店

While the interior decor of Bincho is simple, classy, and well, very Japanese in style, the laminated menu and plastic tray might give a European visitor the impression of being a greasy spoon or motorway service station. It’s not.

Eel meal at Bincho Ginza
Dinner is served – eel + shōchū

Plastic trays take a bit of getting used to – they might be associated with self-service canteens in the UK but they’re commonplace in restaurants in Japan (keeping food and utentils off the table; keeping things clean and orderly, as with the abundance of food packaging).

Eely good

Eel meal at Bincho
Eel meal deal x2

Eel restaurant - Bincho Ginza
Bincho interior – on 12th floor of Maronnier Gate, at top of Tokyo Hands department store

The verdict: If you’re in Tokyo, visit Binchou. That’s all there is to it.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
– Type: Eel restaurant
– Address: 2-2-14, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Marronnier Gate 12th floor
– Tel: +81 3-5159-0231
– Website + menus: Bincho website
– Photos on flickr: Bincho photos
– Location: Bincho Ginza