Given that good food and railway stations go hand in hand in Japan, Miyako, tucked into a small space next to London’s Liverpool Street station, would be right at home in its country of origin.
But despite first appearances, this is no hole in the wall noodle shop, but a restaurant dispensing the finer food for which the country is famous, from top-grade sushi and sashimi to light-as-a-feather tempura.
The surroundings take a little getting used to – just a few tables packed into a narrow room, which has an indoor entrance from Miyako’s home base, the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel. But there’s elegance in the full-height wood panelling, reassurance in the fact head chef Kosei Sakamoto and his team have seen their restaurant named one of the five top places to eat Japanese in the capital and an irresistible offer in the bottomless Saturday brunch which allows a trawl of most of the delectable offerings for the cost of a main course.
Going the unlimited route is worth considering to take full advantage of a menu this tempting – the raw fish is so good, but then so also are the aromatic cooked dishes. Having ordered an array of sushi, sashimi and hand-rolled maki, temaki and “inside out” rolls, we were stopped in our tracks by the sight of a Bento box going by in an impressive assembly of lacquer dishes and had to have one of those too.
First, we enjoyed tuna sashimi(£6 for 3 pieces), almost as voluptuous as toro, the belly of the beast priced at a premium by specialist sushi bars but not offered here. It was a disappointment that hamachi(yellowtail, £7.50 for three pieces) was also not available on a Monday, but good to see a combination of tobiko – tiny orange flying fish roe – and quail egg(£4.50 per piece) as a less ordinary choice on the sushi menu.
Of the rolls, the tuna and avocado wrapped in seaweed(£5.50) was heaven in a cornet, and vegans are catered for with avocado and cucumber maki entirely free of fish. But Japanese food is most rewarding for pescatarians, and this one was particularly glad to see crispy salmon skin, a California favourite, on the menu, although it would have worked better as a salad than squeezed between layers of rice in an inside out roll.
Given that the tempura is delicious here, the Bento box featuring both sushi and a prawn and vegetable tempura selection(£28) offers a lot of bang for a la carte diners, and also includes a bowl of restorative miso soup. One interesting dish not seen elsewhere by this diner is Miyako’s fish miso soup, in which the soy-based broth is packed with scallops, salmon, sea bass and vegetables as well as the usual tofu – a big, hearty bowl for £16.
The drinks list features many indigenous specialities beyond sake as well as a few, mainly Italian, wines, bubbly from France and Spain, cocktails, mocktails, Nikka whisky from the barrel and the three best-known Japanese beers. While the Sake Experience sounded tempting at three tastes for £10, one of the choices was too sweet to partner well with fish; a beaker of warm sake was a better bet at £8 for 150ml.
Remembering what you ate for weeks after dining is always a good sign and the desire to go back and taste it all again is probably what prompted the introduction of the £24 bottomless brunch(£12 for children). It’s worth hitting Spitalfields between 11.30 and 5.30 on a Saturday to experience, although diners risk rolling out of the restaurant like the Sumo the feast is named for!
Tell me more about Miyako Restaurant
Miyako Restaurant, Andaz Hotel 40 Liverpool Street, London EC2M 7QN
T: 020 7618 7009