its funny, you ask my girls where they want to go for birthday dinner and Japanese always comes up high. so i am always on the look out for japanese restaurants; i asked my japanese girlfriend for her tips, she came up with a few that i didnt know about. yuki has brilliant taste, hates to waste money, so i would take her recommendations really seriously.
there is the famous noodle place in Frith Street called KOYA – great noodles and casual but a nice environment and unfortunately very popular, so you have to queue, or go early as they dont take any bookings.
a very good but upmarket one is called DINING. the chef used to work at NOBU and food is modern clean Japanese, bit of fusion, but i think its very expensive and only for special occasions. haven’t managed to get there myself.
another nice one that is typical japanese is Cocoro which is pleasant and moderately priced – again this is on my list to visit.
from my own experience, kulu kulu is a real japanese version of yo sushi – authentic, great tasting sushi that goes round on a conveyor belt, and inexpensive. its a lunchtime or quick eating place, rather than a sit down entertaining meal. i love it though – you can be in and out in half an hour. shimogano is a decent traditional japanese restaurant in camden – look out for the special lunch each day which offers good value. jin kichi in hampstead is also a restaurant that is consistently good.
yuki introduced me to another Japanese restaurant – okan in brixton village – with its unusal speciality of Japanese pancake – think tortilla/frittata it was a pleasant change to the usual Japanese food. The crispy tofu salad was delicious. they also have a ramen restaurant on coldharbour lane, which is very tasty.
my all time favourite for taste and value is asakusa, which happens to be round the corner from where i live – its not modern, or posh, nor atmospheric, just typical japanese cafe with outdated interior, but the food is usually very good. try and ask for a table upstairs if you reserve – the sushi can take a while as they are always busy, but it is worth waiting for. it is also very inexpensive and you will always see japanese families there.