Bincho has a simple equation that sets it apart from other Japanese restaurants around London. Bincho = Yakitori (Grilled chicken) + Kushiyaki (Tasty Tidbits on Skewer). Their two locations (Oxo tower and Soho) offer diners the joy of grilled items on wooden skewers while sitting in amidst a chic, modern Japanese theme.

I went to have dinner at their Oxo tower location on a Sunday evening and unfortunately it was almost completely devoid of people. It probably didn’t really help that scaffolding interfered with the normally scenic views of the Thames, particularly at twilight. At least the views inside are nice. Small cubes hanging from the ceiling and housing lights radiate onto rows of perfectly lined up tables. The smell of charred meats and vegetables fills the air, and their somewhat open kitchen gives you glimpses of the flames they use to do so.

The easiest thing to do in a place like this is to order a small number of dishes at a time. We ordered all of our plates at the start and I felt rushed as the waiter brought the freshly cooked dishes to the table and we ran out of space. Given a fully busy restaurant, I’m still convinced this would be a problem.

Here’s what I remember out of the dishes that we had. The kushi nasu (grilled aubergine) was soft, mushy and smoky. Unfortunately the skin was tough in too many parts that just made it inedible. Their tori tatsu age (fried chicken) was a reasonable serve and as far as typical Japanese chicken goes was very well done. Super fresh and crispy. I thought the ohitashi (cooked spinach with sesame) could have done with more flavour, but was very well presented in tightly pressed rounds and flecked with sesame seeds. Out of the various grilled items including kushi buta (grilled pork belly), kushi unagi (eel), uzura bacon (quail eggs wrapped in bacon) and mune (yakitori with asparagus) both of us thought the best dish was definitely the pork belly with not too much fat to make you want to spit it out, yet enough to keep the flesh juicy and add to the overall flavour. The other dishes, though tasty were pretty ordinary overall.

Though I wouldn’t normally have the dessert, the yuzu panna cotta really caught my eye and did not disappoint. The citrus yuzu flavour was strong and their generous portion (even considering the price) made me think I would have it again if I returned.

Bincho isn’t terrible cheap with each dish priced per the stick with a minimum order of two. Ordering enough for a reasonable meal quickly adds up and even without drinks, you’ll easily spend £20 per person. It’s definitely different from your typical Japanese but I’d hold out for a special occasion before visiting a place like this.

Name: Bincho
Contactable on: Rating: 6 out of 10

Leave a Reply