Me and a tomodachi are determined to take on London’s best (budget) Japanese restaurants, and find the very very best. This started with a trip to Tokyo Diner about two weeks ago- I had the katsudon, my friend had the katsu curry, and there was some umeshu and sake sloshing around too.
Next up was Ryo, a restaurant on Brewer Street near Piccadilly. Brewer Street is a strange place- halfway down it changes from being packed full of Japanese restuarants to packed full of sex shops. Still, the Japanese restaurants provide ample choice for the hungry diner. Another friend had recommended TARO, but this time we went for Ryo, partly because there were Japanese people inside, and partly because it was very competitively priced.
Overall, it was an acceptable, but not outstanding meal. You order standing when you enter, giving you little time to ponder over the menu- this was ok for us, but not so good if you’re new to Japanese cooking. The service is brisk, the decor basic- on the table next to us was a Japanese salaryman slurping down his ramen while reading the Evening Standard– and I got the feeling this is as close to an informal Japanese cafe as you’ll get. One review compared it to an izakaya- it is not that, with a short menu. I had katsu curry, and my friend gyoza with rice. Both were accopanied by miso soup that was spot on, and though the gyoza was nice, my katsu was a bit on the small side. I wouldn’t mind this in a Korean/Japanese station restaurant- I’ve had many substandard katsu’s in my time, but when your forking out £7.50 – cheap by London standards but still more than a pub meal- for katsu curry, you expect a bit more. Overall it was acceptable food in an extremely informal setting. I’m not against this- and highbrow dining will not be on our menu in London- but when you can get similarly priced food in seemingly nicer settings all down the street, it is a downside.
Overall: budget, filling Japanese food in an informal setting.