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Machiya restaurant brings a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine to London

I’ve always maintained that to determine how good a restaurant’s food is, is by looking at the clientele and see how many natives of the cuisine are eating there. After all, who would know better? Based on this little theory I have, Machiya was going to be amazing, as almost every table had Japanese natives eating there! And this, in an area of Soho that has numerous dining options, the tiny Machiya was ram-packed.

This is the second restaurant concept from Aaron Burgess-Smith and Tony Lam, founders of critically acclaimed Kanada-Ya. Machiya has been a key part of London’s food scene for over 4 years, and is now bringing Londoners’ a new way to enjoy the best Japanese ingredients and produce.

Located in the heart of Leicester Square, the unassuming restaurant brings home-style Japanese cooking with no gimmicks, offering a respite from London’s pricier Japanese options. This is the kind of food - I imagine - that Japanese people eat at home - unlike the fayre offered in Mayfair’s trendy sushi restaurants.

Taking inspiration from traditional Japanese wooden townhouses in Kyoto, the small restaurant is bright and inviting. The decor is very minimalistic with wooden tables and stools, and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

What differentiates Machiya from its sister restaurant, Kanada-Ya and many other Japanese restaurants is there is no sushi or ramen on offer. Instead, the dishes featured on the menu explore the diversity of traditional Japanese cooking.

The food is simple, unpretentious, and affordable, with a menu consisting only of dishes that are typically authentic with a clever twist. The focus is on sharing plates and grazing for groups and the menu is centred around lesser-known dishes and a traditional palate.

Some standouts were the Pork Belly Nikujaga: Japan’s answer to stew and an example of Yōshoku - dishes with Western origins that have been adapted to the Japanese palate, the Yaki Salmon Belly: a simple dish using the belly cut of the fish for a rich and melting texture which allows the fish to shine and the Aubergine Dengaku: a very traditional dish of white-miso glazed aubergine and walnuts.

Machiya’s most popular dishes such as Wagyu Katsu, Grilled Eel Unajyu and Gyudon have been improved and remain on the menu, while guests with a sweet tooth will be able to select their dessert from a succinct yet impressive dessert menu featuring Matcha Mille Crepe and Matcha & White Chocolate Fondant, both deliciously light yet decadent.

A concise but focused sake menu has also been drawn up, concentrating on both affordability and drinkability, with every selection available by the glass. The much-loved fruit sakes and specialty Japanese whiskies also feature on the drinks list and alongside the staples there will be one special bottling on rotation.

The service at the restaurant complements the cuisine with friendly attentive staff with no pretensions ensuring you are well-informed on each menu item and served with a smile. Machiya restaurant will not disappoint those after the taste of authentic Japanese cuisine.


5 Panton St

London, SW1Y 4DL


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