If I’m choosing where to go out for dinner, nine times out of 10 I’ll pick Asian cuisine – it’s just so delicious and there’s always something for everyone. I also have a very low attention span, so the really like Japanese food as often you get to eat lots of little delicious treats, rather than one large dish. I was recently invited to come down to Yumi Izakaya*, a new Japanese restaurant in Soho to sample the best of their sharing dishes and cocktails. BRING IT ON!
Yumi Izakaya’s menu is fairly small and simple, which is great for indecisive peeps like me, but there’s still enough choice that there’s something for all appetites and tastes, with a selection of small sharing plates, larger dishes and a selection of chicken skewers and bacon wrapped treats on offer. YAS! They also have a mean cocktail menu and they were more than happy to create some tasty mocktails for my friend Rachelle too.
We kick started our meal with a plate of edamame beans with soy, mirin and salt as I sipped a smooth and rich French Martini and Rach enjoyed a specially made non alcoholic cocktail based on a Gin Bramble, after saying she fancied something refreshing and not too fruity. All the staff were so friendly and we were really impressed with how happy they were to accommodate our needs and create something special for us. The bar tender was obviously really passionate about mixology and seemed as thrilled as Rachelle that he’d whipped up a bespoke drink she liked so much. I also later had a Gin Bramble which was amazing – so refreshing and just strong enough to have a kick but with the flavour of the blackberry shining through to take the edge off.
We then shared a selection of small plates which were just as tasty as our drinks! The Chilli Fried Cauliflower was amazing – covered in a chilli, yuzu and gochujang marinade which was so flavoursome as well as being spicy. The citrus flavour of the yuzu really lifted the heat of the chilli and gochujang and the cauliflower was fried raw so it had an amazing crunchy texture. I literally could have eaten about five more plates full!
We also had some Braised Aubergine which was INCREDIBLE! Cooked in sake, mirin and soy it was so savoury with wonderful layers of flavour. The aubergine was cooked perfectly – nice and firm, not at all mushy. YUM!
Our final vegetarian small plate was Sweetcorn Tempura which were sweetcorn fritters seasoned with salt and chilli. YUM! These were so flavoursome and I think were my overall favourite – they were SO MOREISH!
I’m a huge fan of dumplings and could eat them for pretty much every single meal! The Pork and Ginger Tsukimi were lovely – very fresh tasting and a really good size for popping into your mouth whole! (Haha anyone else find dim sum tricky to eat if it needs a few bites?!)
We were then treated to a platter of chicken skewers – Breast, Thigh, Liver and Heart. Neither Rachelle or I are massive fans of offal and had never tried heart before but were feeling very brave! It wasn’t my favourite – the texture was a little too chewy for me, and a little voice kept screaming HEART HEART HEART in my head which was a bit of a turn off! I definitely didn’t like the liver, as again I was very aware that I was eating a teeny tiny chicken organ and the texture was very mushy which isn’t to my taste, but the thigh and breast were very tasty.
We were also given some lovely little chicken wings seasoned with salt and traditional Japanese spice mix shichimi, and a chicken meatball served with a raw egg and tare dipping sauce, which were nice but not quite as special as the vegetable dishes.
We were also bought out a Larger Dish – the Okonomiyaki Osaka Style (a thick Japanese pancake, with cabbage, eggs, pancetta and Okonomiyaki Sauce) I really enjoyed this as it had such a depth of textures to it, and tasted so fresh. It was also very filling and you could totally have one of these as a main meal on its own.
Feeling like I was going to burst, I had a glass of Rihaku Dreamy Cloud Sake to finish off my meal, which I loved (and how cool is that name?!) I’d never tried it before as always assumed it was extremely strong and alcoholic with a bitter taste (a bit like drinking straight whisky!) I was blown away however to find that although pretty alcoholic, it was super suppable and actually quite sweet. I could have drunk about 5 glasses! Yumi Izakaya has several different sakes on their menu so I definitely want to make my way through them next time I go back!
We had such a lovely evening at Yumi Izakaya. The staff were all so friendly and passionate about the food – and rightly so, it was amazing! I would definitely go for all the vegetarian small dishes again, which is so rare for me – I usually always choose a meat dish. They were just so tasty and filling and were definitely the most flavoursome items on the menu. The drinks were also incredible and I think this would be a really fun place to go for after work drinks and nibbles if you’re not feeling a whole dinner. Thanks for having us guys, we’ll definitely be back again soon!
Where are your favourite Japanese restaurants in London?
*Thanks so much to Yumi Izakaya for inviting us to come and dine for free. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.