Review of 'Yumi Izakaya (NOW CLOSED)'

I heard a rumour about a new Izakaya restaurant in Soho that was still in soft-opening so the food was 50% off…you did not have to tell me twice! I am a great fan of this style of Japanese food - An “Izakaya” is, traditionally, a bar-style establishment that serves small dishes including small grilled skewers.

You would be forgiven for walking right by the small street-front of Yumi on Shaftesbury but this would be a mistake. Walking in immediately the smell of the grill envelopes you and makes you feel right at home. The small seating area is at the back past the bar and grill area. The natural wood interior also serves to welcome you.

Not being drinkers we got right down to ordering some tea (£2.50 for various teas served in a pot with a single teabag but very good) then onto the meal. The food menu is quite short but full of dishes with great flavour. The miso soup (£3) was quite good and not too full of ingredients as we have seen elsewhere - Just the right amount of tofu and seaweed. A few skewers followed: Chicken breast, chicken meatballs, chicken wings, and bacon wrapped asparagus (all at £2.25 each). They were, as expected, quite small, really only a few bites each. The chicken breast and meatballs were smothered with a sauce that drowned out any flavour of the chicken and it did not really taste that nice. The chicken wings were surprisingly tasty - Grilled and coated with a salty covering, they were meaty and very good. The asparagus was ok but not great - Tiny and tasteless. We tried a “Okonomiyaki Osaka Style” (£8) which is a Japanese egg omelette that was quite a generous size with cabbage, pancetta and “Okonomiyaki” sauce then covered with copious amounts of bonito flakes (shaved, dried fish) that can often overpower but here really added a nice saltiness to the pancake.

Our food arrived as it was cooked so as we were between dishes we looked around at what others were eating. We noticed these round, fried fritters that everyone appeared to be ordering. Asking the waitress she said they were the “Sweet Corn Tempura” (£4.50) which we were told were excellent so we ordered - They were the highlight of our meal, by far - Fresh, full kernels of corn in a light batter (tempura, yeah, ok) that were crispy on the outside and light moist on the inside.

The service was friendly and helpful. As we were leaving we even had a short chat with the chef on the grill who seemed very happy to talk and wanted to see that we had enjoyed our visit. So, did we? Absolutely. Delicious (for the most part), reasonably priced (even without the 50% discount), friendly, relaxed and comfortable. Looking for a place to have a drink and some good Japanese food? Here you go.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2016-04-09

Cuisine: Japanese

Address: 67 Shaftesbury Ave. London W1D 6EX

Public Transport: TUBE Piccadilly Circus TUBE Leicester Square

Location: London (England) - Soho



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