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A return to Itadaki Zen

According to this blog, the last time I visited Itadaki Zen was 2012. Yep, it's been a whole four years since the last time I spent some quality time filling my face at London's only vegan Japanese restaurant.

Why the absence, given Japanese food wins the much-contested battle to be my favourite food? Apart from the fact Itadaki Zen is the other side of London (anyone who thinks one side of the capital to the other is not far has never tried to persuade TfL to let them cross the city on a regular basis), I think the delay was because last time I visited, I found the experience nice, but a bit underwhelming.

Happily for Itadaki Zen and my belly, in the intervening four years since I last darkened their doorstep, they've seriously upped their game.

The last time, I remember that the service was fairly uninterested in us, despite the fact that for most of our meal we were the only people in the restaurant. That's happily changed - the waiter this time was a cheerful, attentive gem.

The last time, I also remember that the portions were a little on the small side. That's happily changed too - I ordered a noodle set and got served four separate dishes, none of which were on the small side. I went home full and happy.


And last time, I remember the food was a little bland. Not this time, oh no. This time it was a happy romp through the greatest hits of Japanese food that left me kicking myself for taking so long to return.

Case in point: look at those udon noodles. Great, slippery ropes of wheaty joy in a thin, tsuyu-heavy broth that reminds you of the woody best of shiitake flavour with every mouthful. 

The spring rolls were light and greaseless, packed with a bland okara pulp that was a good foil to the flavour-packed food around it. And the sushi! How I love vegan sushi and how rarely I get to eat it. Expertly cooked rice with tofu or vegetables - what more can you ask for? The side dishes were more on the crisp and peppy side, making that lovely harmony of colour and taste that Japanese food does so well.


Surprisingly for me, I didn't get a dessert - I went off to a gig at the Lexington (which is also rumoured to have vegan Sunday roasts, can anyone confirm that?!) though there are some on the menu. That's something for a return visit. I'm pretty sure it's not going to be in four years' time though.

Itadaki Zen
www.itadakizen-uk.com/
139 King's Cross Rd 
London 
WC1X 9BJ
020 7278 3573

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8 comments

  1. I've yet to venture to Itadaki Zen but it sounds worth visiting from your latest experience!

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  2. This place looks like my heaven. I could very happily eat Japanese food every day of the week and never grow tired of it. It's still a bit challenging to find superlative vegan options, so I wish someone could clone the concept and bring it over to my neck of the woods!

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  3. What a happy surprise to return and it's way better - the udon looks especially good. Too many times I've gone back to restaurants only to find they've gone downhill.

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  4. Reading my blog, it always blows my mind how long it's been since I've been to certain places and have eaten certain foods. Our sites can be great reminders :)

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  5. I've looked at the menu a few times but never managed to get there on a trip to London. I must remember for the future.

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  6. I love Japanese food but vegan Japanese restaurants are hard to find. You're lucky to have one within reach — even though it may not be the most convenient of locations. The meal looks wonderful!

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  7. Yum! I wish I could apparate there for a meal!

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  8. I am only going to say one thing and then I am going I AM SO JEALOUS.

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