London's best Japanese restaurants can be divided into two categories: The fancy ones such as Umu and Yashin and the more casual, simple places that go by the names of Sushi of Shiori and Kiraku. The latter is quite far out, a few metres down the road from Ealing Common, but well worth the trip down there.
As with Shiori, the décor won't make you travel all the way. It is simple, to say the least, and very straightforward. The service on the other hand is not as warm as at Shiori, but efficient and professional.
What will make people (mainly Japanese)
come down here is the food. Take deep-fried oysters. Meaty oysters are breaded
and then deep-fried. Tasty, warm and served with a bit of salad, the portion is
generous to say the least, given the price. Not much to complain about here, as
it is a straightforward and simple plate of honest food.
When it comes to tempura, things are less interesting. The problem is that the batter is too thick and uniform. There are none of the small clusters that come as one gets closer and closer to perfecting this technique. The prawns used here are good and make up for the less exciting technique. In terms of the sushi, things are certainly in safe territory. The fish is not bad at all, the rice well-prepared.
For the prices charged here, you can have a very good Japanese meal at Kiraku. What is interesting is that they offer more than "just" sushi and serve a whole selection of warm dishes. Thus, for people such as Heston Blumenthal and Andy Hayler, this is understandably one of the hidden gems among London's restaurants.