The reason we ended up in this unassuming little Japanese restaurant was that we had planned to go to another Japanese restaurant in central that we dine regularly at but it was being refurbished. Damn! It was a freezing cold evening and we really wanted Japanese food; we had our hearts set. So we headed back the way we came through China Town. A friend of ours said that Tokyo Diner did really good sushi and traditional Japanese dishes and since my friends started to get irritable through hunger and cold we decided to give Tokyo Diner a try. I have to admit, I did not have high expectations and expected the food to be low par’. Needless to say I was wrong and I will go as far as to say I may even try this restaurant again.
As I said this place is located in the heart of China Town on Little Newport Street and looks very plain and a little run down. It is on two floors and as we entered and were greeted by the waiter at a desk by the door we were seated on the first floor in the corner near the kitchen. The old fashioned wooden varnished tables and benches were fastened to the ground so we all had to scootch along the benches for the six of us to fit in.
We were given an impressive menu of authentic Japanese cuisine. We ordered plum wine and sake (not mixed obviously) to drink, while we made up our minds on what to eat. Our friend who had eaten here before suggested we order a sushi platter to share and then get a bento box each for main course as they were generously portioned. As he had proven himself so early on with this little find we all decided to take his lead. This was washed down with a complimentary green tea that was a little too infused for my liking.
The sushi platter, which would have easily served four as a light starter, consisted of a nice mixture of shrimp, prawn, salmon, eel and squid. The sushi was fresh and delicious although the lack of the more expensive fish such as tuna, sea bass and octopus was a little disappointing. We were told the reason for the lack of tuna was because Tokyo Diner has taken an active sustainability stance on this. The English waiter (he looked like a student as he was young and scrawny) took our plates away and quickly served our main course. The chefs and the managers overseeing the service were Japanese, I hasten to add but most of the waiters did seem to be young, English and I must say a little alternative (I don’t mean in a bad way just.. well you know…). Anyway half of us ordered the chicken katsu bento while others went for the salmon teriyaki. The bento box was huge and I realise now why we had a lighter starter. We had rice, chicken, and three thick and juicy slices of salmon sashimi, some salad, pickled vegetables and seaweed. The sides were a real treat and the chicken was delicious. My only criticism (which is a pretty major one) was that the katsu sauce came in a pot like the soy and was to share. This was not an issue but the fact that it had a consistency like water and tasted chemically really was. I had bathed my dry chicken and rice in it before tasting, which was a mistake. It really was quite repulsive but apart form that everything else was so good I really do feel bad for picking up on this but as I say it is quite a major issue.
We finished up and were completely full and satisfied, I have to say despite the sauce I finished the whole box, which was an achievement considering its size.
For all of what we ordered the bill came to around £20 each which is a real bargain and although the restaurant is plain, simple and lacking character the food is rather good; authentic, tasty and generous portions. Service although English and fast paced is over seen by Japanese owners. My only other criticism was that I was sitting opposite a clock that instead of having digits had different sushi modelled to the face of the clock and I found it disturbing, but you can’t win ‘em all. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives Tokyo Diner:
Food Atmosphere Service