Jin Kichi, Hampstead, London 13/20

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Jin Kichi is a small Japanese drawer tucked inside a small wardrobe of restaurant.

In a sense it is authentic, ie like restaurants in Japan, the door slides rather than opens, there is a counter by the yakitori grill plus a few booth canteen-like tables. The philosophy is one dimensional i.e. it does one thing well. That thing is yakitori.img_3723It is pretty dark in there which is why my photo is a bit bleary, but you get the idea, bits of chicken on a stick, in fact anything that can be put on an open grill usually is including chicken skin (early on) or asparagus, or even a quail egg. Whole fish to grill are spectacular. TA rates it 1870 out of 17,629 restaurants in London which given that the grilling operation looks like it is held together with a rubber band, Bacofoil and a B&Q extractor is remarkable enough. Maybe it is the building itself, but it manages to have an almost Dickensian feel. Dickens meets Blade Runner, if that is possible.

They do other dishes too, the miso soup uses red miso, the pickles are standard which is to say good, so too was the agedashi tofu topped with lengths of nori.img_3722And this is what a Hampstead roll looks like:img_3721Staff are friendly, it is popular because it is small which gives it buzz. Not really in the same class (or value for money) as the current excellent regime at Cafe Japan in Golders Green, especially for sushi/sashimi, but CJ doesn’t have a specialist grill. The nearest thing to an Ootoya London has yet got.

73 Heath St, London NW3 6UG, UK

0207 794 6158 http://www.jinkichi.com

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