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Restaurants & Bars

Superb torikawa @ Jin Kichi, Hampstead, London

limster | Dec 26, 201103:11 PM

An outstanding grilled skewer of chicken skin/torikawa at this yakitori place - beautiful caramelisation and crispness on the surface, rich gorgeous sticky texture just beneath, no flab or chewiness. Complete with the right touch of salt, a squeeze of lemon. One of the best things I've eaten in London.

Tsukune/chicken meatballs, were also finely made -- very tender on the inside, and glossed with a an excellent tare/yakitori sauce. The version here has a thinner consistency, slightly more oil than others I've had in the past, but imparts just the perfect nudge of flavour, a poised balance of umami, salt and sweetness.

Shiso maki/pork wrapped in shiso, was only ok, the shiso flavour wonderful, mingling well with the pork, but the meat was quite lean, would have preferred the fattier version that I had at Tosa a few years ago.

Leba/chicken livers, were soft and supple on the inside that spoke of excellent textural control, with a moderate livery flavour.

Yakitori/chicken skewers, were flavourful and tender, an excellent example of the classic, dipped in the tare like many of the other skewers. Didn't see a shio/salt version on the menu, but was happy to go with the default.

Gyu tan/beef tongue had a tremendous amount of flavour, probably my second favourite, after the torikawa.

Plump shiitake mushrooms were elegantly scored before grilling, their woodsy savoury flavours expressive and clear in the juicy bites.

Chilled pieces of lotus root shear sharply and crisply on the teeth, with a soft snap from bell peppers fr contrast. The flavours are pure and simple, with a cloak of sweetness, presumably from simmering in sweet sake. A refreshing starter.

It was great to sit at the bar, watching the grilling chef expertly skewering various meats to a certain even thickness, moving the skewers between different parts of the grill, trimming off tiny burnt corners, then fluidly dipping the cooked skewers in the urns of tare, before placing them on a dish.

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