Ikeda: Good food, but not cheap (October 2013)

Diners in London in search of authentic Japanese food and service have it good in Mayfair. Ikeda can comfortably hold its own against the likes of Sakana-Tei (Maddox Street) or Kiku (Half Moon Street) among others. If there is a common factor across these restaurants, it is that they – like much of Japanese culture – are discreet and under-stated. The emphasis at Ikeda is very much on food; the location (and, by consequence, the atmosphere to an extent) is undoubtedly secondary. In terms of décor, think plain white walls and functional wooden furniture. At least my view was ameliorated by the open kitchen, where it is always a pleasure to watch the dedication and attention to detail with which Japanese chefs prepare their food. Both my dining comrade and I went for the set lunch menu, which comprised a seaweed appetiser, miso soup, sashimi on a bed of rice and then fruit. All was first-class, but the unsurprising stand-out from these items was the sashimi, lusciously fresh and varied. At £37 a head, however, the set lunch doesn’t come cheap. Better value does exist on the menu with teriyaki dishes from £18, but certainly if one were picking and choosing sushi and sashimi, it would be easy to imagine the bill quickly racking up. Conclusion: if you like Japanese food, then do go, but ideally get someone else to pay….