"A Japanese izayaka with a London twist"Review Rating: Reviewed by T.A.O
Ultra rich ramen may be the new trend that has taken Soho by storm but this area has another Japanese treat. Located on Old Compton Street, Bincho has been going from strength to strength with the rise of Japanese food and their yakitori grill is more popular than ever.
By nature, Japanese yakitori bars and izakaya’s are simple venues. Cooking a variety of meats (predominantly bird), fish and vegetables on skewers over hot coals these morsels represent almost a Japanese version of ‘pub grub’. However, like burgers, brunch and hot dogs, there’s nothing like dressing up a simple food craze and running with it. Bincho’s take on the yakitori bar works by pairing the authenticity of the grill with a sharp modern space. From the hip décor, to the miniature glasses that the beer is dispensed into from the bottle, it has that delicate Japanese touch of style.
If you haven’t eaten yakitori before then it’s best just to think of it as tapas. Aside from some excellent rice dishes on offer to fill you out (try the oyako don – steamed rice with chicken and soft-cooked egg and onion) you should dive straight into the skewers. The chicken hearts, Unagi (eel), pork belly, chicken liver and salmon each come highly recommended. The chicken hearts in particular. The rubbery outer punctures gently as you bite into it and the flavour of the meat gives you a hit unlike any other in the bird. We also order the Seven Samurai, a selection of seven skewers, which gives you a crash course in yakitori and kushiyaki (meat and fish skewers). If you don’t fancy the idea of liver and heart then the selection of seven is a good place to start. As well as chicken wings you’ll sample grilled asparagus and gizzard.
The Bincho experience is best enjoyed with a group. Since the skewers only come in two’s, sharing amongst each other is the easiest way to be as adventurous as possible. We skip the dessert and head downstairs to Mizuwari, London’s first bar dedicated to Japanese whiskies. A meal for five with cocktail, beers, skewers and rice came to a reasonable £40 a head with service included. Money well spent to enjoy some Japanese style with a glimpse at an underrated side of the country’s cuisine.
T.A.O reviewed Bincho on Wed 03 Jul 2013