Japanese restaurant Tokyo Diner
2 Newport Place
London WC2H 7JJ
Tokyo Diner is probably the largest Japanese restaurant located in Chinatown. At first it looks small but there are rooms downstairs and upstairs. I used to go often there, especially from 2005 to 2007, then I had 3 not so good experiences and decided to go to Zipangu next door. I still go to Zipangu now named Akasiro but I wanted to check how Tokyo Diner was doing.
We ordered 2 Asahi beers (£3.80 – that is a very good price) and 2 Kara Fry Bento boxes (£31.80). I used to take the Kara Fry Bento box in the past so it was a good way to use it as a benchmark. I was quite disappointed and it is sad to see this place going down. In the past the pieces of chicken were so large that I could have trouble eating it all. They were also freshly cooked with a nice crispy skin. Now they were not really warm with a chewy texture (even the skin) which makes me wonder how long ago were they cooked… The salmon sashimi used to be 3 larges slices. Now it was ridiculously small, like the size of a single slice in the past divided into 3 pieces. Worse, they were room temperature instead of being on the cold side. The only thing that did not change size was the rice but it was dry, and was long grain rice which really isn’t suited to Japanese cuisine. The pickles and the aubergine agé bitashi were good while the su-no-mono was not. The beer was not very cold too. They used to do so much better.
On the upside: the service is friendly and I like they give you the bill when they serve your meal so after eating you do not have to wait and can go directly to the counter to pay. Also, they give you green tea for free and refill it too. If you like green tea, you do not have to order any drink. They have a no tipping policy, like in Japan, which is nice.
Asahi beer and green tea
Kara Fry bento
Details of the bento box
Pickles and aubergine agé bitashi
Cost and conclusion: it was £35.60. The Kara Fry bento is way overpriced at £15.90 for what you get now. It is the price for two pizzas and two drinks at Franco Manca (in Brixton), it is currently the price for a two course set menu at Bellevue Rendez-vous (in Wandsworth Common) where the quality of food is high. It is also a lot more than the other Japanese restaurant Akasiro next door. It is now the 4th consecutive time I have had a bad experience at Tokyo Diner in the last 2 years. I have also friends who have noticed the same problem and we did not eat together. Also, they do claim they are open 365 days a year from 12 till 12 but we got refused at 11pm one night. There were still people eating and it was far from being full.