This is Japanese dining at its finest. With Ichitaro you have the chance to get off the standard sushi train to experience a unique and authentic perspective on some of Nippon’s most tantalising dishes.
Every year the Variety on King William event showcases the best of the street’s dining options in a roving degustation menu. The latest event in October introduced the newest restaurant on the block – Ichitaro Dining.
On first impression, the place is certainly haiku worthy. After the first taste of the wonderfully smoky aburi salmon roll and crunchy sweet potato yasai croquette served as canapes at the event, I knew I needed more. A follow-up booking a few days later seats us among a bustling service. There is limited wait staff but the small restaurant copes well (not so well for the diners without a booking who are turned away while we order). Word has clearly spread fast.
The reputation of this new fine Japanese dining venue is going strong. The interior has been designed with restraint. Woven ropes on the walls and a gnarly wooden sculpture with intertwining light fittings on the ceiling, act as the only features in this otherwise clean and stark space.
Bottles of sake on the main counter are the solitary giveaway that we are in a restaurant of Asian persuasion, other than the chopsticks accompanying the settings on the light timber tables. Shared entrees arrive first. Beef tataki is of the highest quality. The tempura oysters crunch and then melt in the mouth.
The misomarinated roast eggplant and tofu has a flavour I can’t quite pick, but adore completely. The yakitori octopus is slightly chewy, but not offensively so, and is accompanied by plum and wasabi. Roast duck with yuzu sauce is served medium rare; succulent and infused with citrus that is strong, but not overbearing.
It is not a true Japanese meal without a serve of sashimi. Ichitaro Dining’s sashimi is among the best I’ve tasted since a distant jaunt in Osaka, while the nigiri set is presented in a typical fashion, only better. About now I realise that the calibre of Ichitaro’s Japanese food has not been tasted in this city until now.
Some restaurants have come close, but this is a refined version of traditional cuisine adopted and perfected. The hero of tonight’s menu is the saikyostyle black cod. Separate flavours of salty and spicy come together in a true balance of articulated elements that send shivers through my tastebuds in all the right ways.
I can only assume that they keep their very own samurai in the kitchen; each dish displays exquisite knife skills and an artistic flair achieved through only the strictest of disciplines. Reading the lunch menu I realise that I will need to visit again soon.
The bento box looks to be a sensational mix of textures and tastes, including assorted tempura, grilled fish, teriyaki chicken, miso, tofu and sashimi. This is Japanese dining at its finest. With Ichitaro you have the chance to get off the standard sushi train to experience a unique and authentic perspective on some of Nippon’s most tantalising dishes.
3/160 King William Rd Hyde Park