Kiri London – Japanese Izakaya
Given the scarcity of Japanese restaurants catering for Halal across the Capital, it’s always a pleasure to dine at those like Kiri, that have not only gone out of their way to do so, but also express an acute awareness and sensitivity towards the particulars of said dietary requirements.
When asked about the measures in place for ensuring zero cross-contamination between the Halal wagyu beef and pork, the manager assured us that such measures would strictly be enforced for all Halal requests.
Now, it’s true that Kiri is an Izakaya restaurant – a type of Japanese gastropub, but not nearly as in-your-face as its traditional British counterpart. In fact, we’d say that it isn’t any more or less than your typical non-gastropub restaurant that serves alcohol. Instead, this place exudes a calm and tranquil ambience with particular attention paid to its underlying theme with an array of interrelated props and wall decorations.
Named after the principle tool of a Japanese master carpenter, the first thing that catches the attention is this strikingly large wooden panel centrally mounted outside beside the entrance with the restaurant logo proudly engraved.
The wood theme carries on inside with a number of wall-mounted wooden barrel ends that have emblems painted on them which seem to represent what’s offered on the menu including a fish, the horns of a bull, barley stalks, and what looked like shimeji mushrooms – a variety native to that part of the world.
The downing of large quantities of tea alongside one’s meal is part and parcel of the eating habits of Japanese and other Far East cultures. Hence, the brown rice mint tea by Yamamotoyama – a family-owned company founded in Tokyo as far back as 1690 that specialises in green tea and nori seaweed – just kept on flowing.
And Edamame, of course, is the all too familiar pick-me-up appetiser that’s an absolute must at such restaurants.
These were an instant hit with us.
The spicy sweet potato croquettes had a deliciously soft and creamy interior, which had an almost egg and cheese type flavour to it, and a beautifully golden and crispy exterior that was a delight to bite into.
Couple that with the wasabi and edamame mayo base, and what you have here is a veggie dish that we’d definitely reorder.
Great little concept this. Presented in a piping hot pan that keeps the food cooking away, the idea is to literally mash the spicy fried rice and the shimeji mushrooms with the quaills egg, mix it all up, and dive in.
Of course, the rich, runny yoke of the egg, when properly mixed in, continues to cook leaving you with a well coated eggy mixture of lightly spiced charred rice interspersed with thinly sliced onions giving that slight textural crunch!
With one Lion considering this “amazing”, what we had here was beautifully soft tuna wrapped around a salty onion mixture and resting in a subtly tangy sauce.
The smokiness also came through well.
With a golden crispy breadcrumb top, this delicately flavoured gratin contained melt-in-your-mouth creamy scallops alongside prawns whose flavour came through thereafter.
The crab was slightly lost somewhere in between though.
Be careful with this one because the first thing to pulverise the senses of your nasal cavity is the extremely sudden hit of wasabi.
The octopus carpaccio (raw) itself was a little on the chewy side, though a pleasant enough eat (once you recover from the wasabi assault that is) without being anything spectacular.
These squid tenticles were coated in a crunchy, herby batter, and were again extremely chewy.
Presented with a mushroom dip that was mildly sweet, this failed to wow us.
A dish that looks equally as strange as it does intriguing was bound to create a stir; and so it did!Advertisement Advertisement
The sole fish balls were nice and soft with a salty undertone and a crispy exterior, while the slightly salty, dried-out bone platter was entirely edible.
We later found out that the “strange herb aftertaste”, as one Lion put it, was, in fact, the Asian culinary herb, shiso.
Hence, while one Lion thought it was “nothing special”, another couldn’t get enough of the edible bone platter.
Currently the only Halal meat on their menu.
These extremely soft, juicy and tender wagyu skewers were well coated in a slightly sweet and sticky marination with a hint of spice to it, had a light smoky aftertaste, and were very satisfying.
With an apparent marbling grade of 5, this dish was a bit of a let down.
Though these medium wagyu steak slices were tender and succulent, what let this dish down somewhat was the strong taste of the sweet miso sauce, which sadly overpowered the delicate flavours of the beef.
May not be everyone’s cuppa this. Yes it’s raw salmon; but so fresh, that had with the soya sauce and wasabi, it’ll certainly challenge the palate.
The roe, or fish eggs, encrusted sticky rice tightly wrapped about a creamy slice of avocado and a flavourful mixture of crab and prawn kept us guessing all the way re this California Tuna’s assortment of flavours and taste.
The Spicy Tuna on the other hand had a very subtle spice to it with a hint of sour in the background. Smelling of lemon, the fresh tuna came through well.
With an almost dark chocolate flavour to it, though not quite as strong, this chocolate mousse had the consistency of a very soft cheesecake with a pleasantly strange bitter-sweet aftertaste.
The ice creams were an interesting duo though. The green tea was a peculiar one in that it had a pungent almost fish like taste to it which, much like green tea, got tastier with each successive bite.
The miso, however, was far subtler with a sweet sugar-cane type taste to it (almost like the Indian sweet Barfi).
As to the Green Tea & Yuzu Cheesecake, then the topping was extremely soft a la the texture of mousse with the light lemony flavour of yuzu coming through well. As for the biscuit, then it was just right – delicately crumbly.
- YES/ YES
- CHILD SEATING
With a capacity of 60, the restaurant isn't big. However, it's spacious enough not too feel overcrowded.
It does serve alcohol, and pork is on the menu too; but, if you inform them of your Halal requirements, they'll be sure to take care of the rest.
But what ultimately defines most of the dishes on their menu is the subtle and, on occasions, clever interplay between flavours that are, in their nature, delicate to begin with. And for this reason, this Japanese restaurant, which offers Halal wagyu, is worth the visit. A separate room at the back of Kiri can be hired out for events.
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