Ironically in the middle of Chinatown there is Tokyo Diner, a cheap but decent Japanese restaurant. Even though the owner appears to be English (if you agree with me that Richard Hills does not sound terribly Japanese) the place has a distinct Japanese atmosphere to it. I have just been to Japan couple of months ago and Tokyo Diner feels very much like one of the Izakayas I went to in Kobe. I am talking not only about the furnishing and (as far as I can judge it) Japanese waiters but also the fact that, just like in Japan, tips are not taken, that you pay on the counter when you leave and that green tea (I think it was Hojicha) is served free of charge.
The menu is really weird but at the same time rather entertaining: you can spend ages reading the detailed description about every dish as well as some trivia about Japan and Japanese food. In addition the menu contains 5 whole pages with allergy information regarding the nuts/seeds and gluten content for each individual dish.
The food only partly lived up to my expectations. I was a bit disappointed actually by the Hoso-MakiI Set (6.20). The rice was too sticky and the salmon didn’t taste that fresh. The vegetarian cucumber and pickled radish maki were much better actually but also they did not quite satisfy my palate which has become used to the outstanding quality of sushi in Japan.
I love all kinds of Japanese noodles and particularly when I am hungover, as I happened to be at this particular occasion, nothing is comparable to the healing powers of a Japanese noodle soup. I chose the Curry Udon with Chicken (8.20) which was a very decent bowl of soup drenched with the rather mild but strangely addictive flavour of Japanese curry. The udon were not quite Koya quality but really not bad at all.
It is not the best Japanese restaurant I have ever been to but considering how cheap, friendly and uncomplicated it is, it is well worth a visit for a quick pre-theatre bite or for a hangover cure.
- Food: 5/10
- Ambiance: 6/10
- Service: 6/10
- Value for money: 7/10
- Chances of returning: 50%
- Verdict: nice little Japanese without major surprises.