32 Thurloe Street, South Kensington
London SW7 2LT
Little Japan is a tiny restaurant located in South Kensington, close to the tube station. Actually we had intended to go to la Bouchée which we have already eaten at but it was before the blog. On our way we thought it was a bit of a waste to eat French cuisine in London since we are going to go to the French riviera on vacation soon. It was a bad decision as we found out the hard way.
The restaurant is quite small, with two levels and a counter in the background. The waiter comes to take orders and to serve you but you have to go to the counter to pay.
We ordered some sushi – salmon rolls (8 pieces – £3.50), the tonkatsu bento (described as “deep fried breaded pork marinated in tonkatsu, rice and salad” – £4.90), the Torikara Bento (described as “garlic chicken in teriyaki sauce with rice and salad – £4.90), some deep fried vegetables, a orange juice and a 7up.
Tonkatsu or cordon bleu ?
The “tonkatsu” was nothing short of astonishing. For a start, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t pork. It was, in fact, a sliced piece of chicken cordon bleu with a dash of tonkatsu sauce. I can’t say it was nasty exactly (though it was overcooked and rather dry) but it certainly wasn’t tonkatsu or even a close approximation. I mean, since when do you have a slice of ham in tonkatsu? LOL The rice was some form of long grain, so also rather dry and difficult to eat as it didn’t stick together (we stuck to chopsticks because, although a couple of forks had been provided, they weren’t too clean…). The rest of the bento box wasn’t worth eating. The salad, drowned in a pasty-white mayonnaise, was some wilted bits of lettuce and tomato whilst the seaweed was seriously nasty to the point I started to worry if I would get sick.
The deep fried vegetables were exactly as described. Seeing as it was supposed to be a Japanese restaurant, I had, of course, visions of tempura vegetables when I ordered this dish. What I got was chunks of a variety of vegetables, encased in a very peppery batter, and that had been deepfried. Not that bad in small doses, but they had a taste of very well used cooking oil (so the small doses was as much a health issue as anything else).
Close-up of the garlic chicken...
The garlic chicken in teriyaki sauce was weird too. I couldn’t really taste the teriyaki nor the garlic and it was salty and spongious. In fact, the “garlic” was identifiably garlic salt – if you can imagine that added to chicken in a teriyaki sauce, you start to get an idea of my horror…
The salmon rolls were bad with a funny sour taste while the wasabi was probably old because it wasn’t very hot anymore. The salmon bits were tiny. You get a lot better salmon rolls at the take away section of Japan Centre, near Picadilly Circus or at just about any place selling sushi.
Cost and conclusion: it was £20.30. It was bad, one of my worst lunches in London. Even thinking about it makes me shiver.
This place has nothing Japanese, the name is very misleading. On the upside, the service was friendly and we did not get sick which is already something (or at least, so far we are not sick). We must be pretty tough! Or maybe just lucky… For more information about Little Japan, just google the name.