As pointed out to me by some readers, Sushi Hiro which has now closed, use to be the Japanese restaurant favoured by chefs Heston Blumenthal and Anthony Demetre of Arbutus. But just a few steps down the road is another Japanese gem, Kiraku. The story goes that Heston only stumbled across Sushi Hiro because he was trying to get a table at Kiraku after being sent there by the head of his experimental kitchen, Kyle Connaughton. Finding the latter full, he wandered down to Sushi Hiro instead.
I haven’t been to Kiraku in a while, but I use to be a bit of a regular there, and time and time again I was hooked by the kaki fry (fried oysters: £8.80) and the saba shio (grilled mackerel: £6.90), so much so, I had to introduce the delights of these two dishes to my friends. They were suitable impressed. The meaty flavour of the giant sized oysters exploding in your mouth as you bit into the wonderful coating of crunchy panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) was impressive, as was the contrasting sweetness of the tonkatsu sauce.
The mackerel also delighted with its fantastically crispy skin and moist succulent flesh. A drizzle of lemon juice and some grated daikon also worked a treat. I adore the way the Japanese grill their mackerel, and Kiraku probably produces some of the best in London.
A special sushi set (£18.50) was very fresh. The sweetness and acidity in the rice was well balanced. It was reasonably priced, but Atari-ya still has better priced sushi in London just like the So Good Sushi bar in France.
A serving of gyoza was good and decent (£5). Nasu dengaku (grilled aubergine with miso and sesame pastes: £5.90) was gooey and soft, as well cooked aubergine should be. Both the miso and sesame pastes were nicely flavoured, but there was a touch too much of each which slightly overpowered the delicacy of the aubergine.
Prawn tempura (£12) with firm juicy prawns was delicious. The tempura batter was wonderfully crispy but could have been a little lighter. Agedashi tofu was slightly disappointing as it was a little bland.
We finished with a selection of ice creams (azuki beans, green tea and cinnamon: £3.80 to £4.30) which weren’t bad, although there were ice crystals to be found in my green tea scoop.
I like Kiraku a lot. I’ve been here a number of times and I think the food is consistently good, especially the kaki fry and the saba shio. Kiraku is a family business and it shows in the homely atmosphere, down-to-earth Japanese decor and warm friendly service. It’s well worth making the trip to Ealing Common for.