London's best izakaya (Japanese pubs)

(Yep, we had to look it up, too).

But now we know... we're all about the izakaya!

Saki, sushi, Japanese beers, a cool atmosphere; slick, sophisticated clientele and an awesome soundtrack is what you can expect from London's best izakaya.

We've combed the capital for the best spots where Japanese drinking and dining culture combines in London's backyard.

Here's our pick of the best...

251 King's Road SW3 5EL
Region: Chelsea
Nearest Station: South Kensington (0.5 miles)

AIL Says: Chef Scott Hallsworth has effortlessly glided from fine dining (Nobu, Wabi) to casual eating and drinking with his self-proclaimed “rock’n’roll izakaya”. His smart menu fuses east and west with snacks like steamed Wagyu beef sliders and croissants with green matcha tea butter, complemented by a selection of cocktails and sakes.

16 Old Compton Street W1D 4TL
Region: Soho
Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Mizuwari is the name of the whisky bar lurking in the basement of Soho’s Bincho Yakitori. This is in fact London’s only Japanese whisky bar, and as well as having a fantastic selection of both renowned and lesser known varieties they also serve up killer cocktails. If you get hungry you can order the yakitori from upstairs.

  • OUR REVIEW 9/10
Flesh & Buns
41 Earlham Street WC2H 9LX
Region: Covent Garden
Nearest Station: Covent Garden (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: From the same team as ramen joint Bone Daddies, Flesh & Buns has a fun atmosphere, helped by the DIY nature of the menu. Inspired by Taiwanese steamed buns, diners put together their own bun with their choice of meat or fish (the flesh). The drinks list has Japanese whisky, sake, plum wine and shochu.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
196 Essex Road N1 8LZ
Region: Islington
Nearest Station: Essex Road

AIL Says: Islington’s Akari combines a classic British pub setting with an extensive menu of Japanese bar snacks, from miso soup and sushi to deep fried oysters and pork belly rolls.

  • USERS 1/10
Izakaya Japan
356 Regents Park Road N3 2LJ
Region: Finchley
Nearest Station: Finchley Central

AIL Says: The name of this eatery is a bit of a misnomer as the menu has main courses rather than tapas-sized dishes and the only booze on offer is wine and beer. Nonetheless, it’s one of Finchley’s best restaurants, and the unfussy décor and laidback ambience is pretty authentic. Food is also available to take away.

Hi Sushi
27 Catherine Street WC2B 5JS
Region: Holborn
Nearest Station: Covent Garden (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: The Hi Sushi chain is known for its all-you-can-eat sushi and a menu covering pretty much every Japanese dish known in the West. Choosing to call this an izakaya is a bit of a stretch as it’s a rather large scale operation set over three floors, but it’s good value nonetheless and there are reasonably priced cocktails and Japanese beers.

Izakaya Boris
Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB
Region: Lambeth
Nearest Station: Westminster (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: Owners of Ozu, the Japanese restaurant located within the County Hall building either have a surreal sense of humour or are fans of the bumbling blonde Tory, as that’s who this casual eatery is named after. Once you get past the childish sculpture of the politician (with a panda on his head and posing on a Boris bike, naturally) there’s a more traditional menu of sushi and yakitori.

Asakusa Restaurant
265 Eversholt Street NW1 1BA
Region: Camden
Nearest Station: Mornington Crescent

AIL Says: This veteran Japanese haunt is beloved of ex-pats and Londoners alike. The lengthy menu extends from sushi, noodles and stews to deep fried octopus balls and honey glazed chicken hearts, perfect for soaking up several glasses of shochu.

  • OUR REVIEW 9/10
  • USERS 7/10
33 Goodge Street W1T 2PS
Region: Fitzrovia
Nearest Station: Goodge Street

AIL Says: This no frills establishment on busy Goodge Street attracts a mostly Japanese clientele. Specialties are the yakitori and the kimchi on rice, not forgetting a variety of sakes – some are sold in 1.8 litre bottles which they’ll keep for you every time you visit.

  • USERS 9/10

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