Posted by: mikeydude | October 29, 2009

Kiraku London Ealing Restaurant Review (7/10)

Ealing Common… home to 2 of London’s finest Japanese restaurants according to a Guardian newspaper journalist and according to those boys at the Fat Duck in Bray. Let’s not deny anything here…. I love Japanese food. I love sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki, tempure, soft shell crab, and even Japanese noodle soup. While in London I could not pass on the opportunity to try this place. The 2 restaurants in this town are called Sushi-Hiro and Kiraku. I was really thinking hard of which one to visit as I had heard such glowing reviews of both of these places. I haven’t eaten Japanese food for a long time due to the poor options available in Cardiff (don’t even bother…. we have essentially 2 in Cardiff which are run by Malaysians… enough said).

kiraku

Took a while to find the place by car (and I can’t stress enough how much I detest driving in London), but the food that was waiting for us made the trip well worth it.

Hmmmm… first impressions…. all I can say is… Orange. Very orange from the outside and it looks like a 1960’s canteen. Once you go in all you can see are Japanese diners (good sign!) in a room full of benches and a small area around a sushi counter in the corner that you can sit by and watch the sushi chef work! I was very quickly greeted by a smiley waitress and led to my bench where my 2 fellow diners were already waiting for me. One of them (my father-in-law) has tasted fantastic Japanese food in Japan itself and so I was rather nervous in bringing him to a Japanese restaurant which I had never tried before. Nevertheless the glowing reviews from fellow bloggers led me to believe that this was a sure-winner.

Anyway I was quick to order a Kirin beer whilst my companions ordered green tea (free refills might I add). I would have ordered Sake if I wasn’t driving.

kirakutea

The menu was vast indeed. Classic dishes ranging from Bento Boxes to sushi/sashimi and various noodle soups and rice dishes. There were skewered meats if you fancied as well as daily specials on a blackboard. Today there was Iberian ham katsu (deep fried cutlet) and one of my favourites Black Miso Cod (made famous by Nobu). Memories of black miso cod echo back to last year where I had it for the first time in a small Japanese restaurant specialising in grilled meat in Hampstead called Jinkichi. It was incredible. I couldn’t resist. Well in terms of items I let the guru and the wife do most of the ordering with the exception of my favourite Toro (fatty tuna) and the black cod of course! I forgot to mention Toro…. my favourite sashimi. Last time I had it was in London’s Sake no Hana. Beautifully moist and sinfully fatty piece of tuna that melts in your mouth in a similar fashion to Wagyu Beef and Foie Gras. Truee delicacy but much cheaper than those by a country mile. At this point I was getting hungry and things were looking very promising indeed.

Sashimi platter:

kirakusashimi3

Wow I haven’t seen such thick pieces of sashimi for a long time. Beautifully presented on a wooden board were 3 pieces of wonderfully fresh morsels of raw seafood. From top left going anticlockwise (picture above): Tuna, Salmon, Yellow Fin, (unsure what this one was ?clam), and squid. Very very fresh (no fishyness at all), and I was particularly fond of the yellow tail which I had never tried before. The fleshy part tastes like tuna, but then the edge had a rather fattier taste which was most pleasant. I’ve never really been a fan of raw squid though as it’s quite mushy. Of course being an amateur I mix my soy sauce and wasabi together in a dish before using it as a dip. Apparently it’s not meant to be done this way!

kirakusashimi2

Toro:

kirakutoro2

My favourite did not disappoint. Melt in your mouth tuna belly dipped with soy and wasabi was an enjoyment I had not relished for too long. Delicious although I think the one I had in Sake no Hana was better (perhaps due to its novelty value at the time?).

Miso Mackerel:

kirakumisomackeral

The wife ordered this dish as she’s usually a fan of grilled fillet of mackerel but this time chose a variation. This was nice, tasting more earthy due to its fattier meaty texture. However I think I prefer the simply grilled form.

Salmon Fish Jaw:

kirakusalmonfin1

During my many years of eating whole steamed fish with my parents one thing I learnt was that the best part of the fish was the small section of meat just posterior to the insertion of the ‘cheek’ fin. I’ve always called this the cheek meat, not too dissimilar in principle to the ‘oysters’ of the chicken. Anyway it was nice to see this large jaw of salmon hot grilled and containing that coveted piece of flesh. The skin was nicely salted and the flesh was not overcooked to dryness. Nice.

Soba noodle soup with tempura:

kirakusoba

Noodle soup just as I anticipated…. didn’t blow me away but then I didn’t expect it to. The tempura that came along (generous portions of deep fried shrimp and other vegetables) had a classically light batter. Slightly strange that we had to ask for the tempura sauce but that was tasty too.

kirakutemp1

Iberian Ham Katsu:

kirakukatsu

More tender than the standard pork katsu that I order. Had a much stronger taste as well. No complaints there.

Udon noodle soup with various vegetables and mushrooms:

kirakuudon

The Mrs always orders noodle soup and she looked as though she enjoyed this bowl. Another classic dish that’s usually ordered.

Miso Black Cod:

kirakumisocod

The characteristic taste of the black cod brought back the same memories as last year, but somehow I didn’t enjoy it as much. Not sure why. Perhaps I was too full at this point? Or maybe the cut of fish was more tender last time. I still liked it very much, but don’t think it justified the £14 price tag this time round.

Oh by the way we ordered an extra 2 servings of sashimi at this point which I forgot to photograph. I was yellow tail and clam. Just as good as the first batch.

Green tea Icecream with red bean paste:

kirakuicecream

She could not resist the urge to finish the meal with a dessert, and boy does she love green-tea icecream. This one tasted nice, again nothing extraordinary. The red bean taste went well with the green tea, but as myself and dad kept attacking the ice-cream it was evident that we weren’t fans of red bean.

So conclusion? Highly enjoyable meal, especially the sashimi, which was what I came for. The other dishes were also good, but not in an outstanding sense. On top of this, I felt that the success of this restaurant entirely boils down to the freshness/quality of the ingredients much more so than the cooking technique itself. On the basis of this I am unable to award such a high score, however, based on enjoyment alone it would have scored just as highly as my other posts.

It all came to approximately £110 including service charge and drinks for 3. Not cheap by any means, but I will definitely consider returning. However I must try Sushi Hiro next, so watch this space 🙂

Contact:

Kiraku Japanese Restaurant
8 Station Parade
Uxbridge Rd, London, W5 3LD

020 89922848

Opening hours:
Tues-Sun 12:00-15:00 & 18:00-23:00

http://www.kiraku.co.uk/

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Responses

  1. […] of weeks previously I had eaten at the impressive Kiraku with my Mrs and father-in-law (review here). In that review I mentioned that Ealing was known to boast 2 of London’s top Japanese […]


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