bincho yakitori grill and bar
Popped into bincho for a quick bite today before heading to Selfridges for some ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner party. It was dead when we arrived (ok it was 6pm, but still, it’s a friday night and we’re in soho) which suited us fine as it meant we’d be in and out pretty quick. This was our second time at this casual eatery which is based on a traditional Japanese Izakaya (drinking places offering small dishes such as grilled or fried items and salads). Inside, a grill imported from Japan takes pride of place, this is where the yakitori (grilled chicken or duck) and kushiyaki (grilled meat, fish or vegetables) skewers are flame-grilled over ‘Bincho’ charcoal – a Japanese charcoal that can heat up to very high temperatures, helping to sear the meat and lock in its juices.
For skewers we ordered the enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon, baby courgettes, squid, chicken oysters (the small, round pieces of meat on the back of a chicken near the thigh), chicken gizzards, ox tongue and pig tongue (the day’s special). We also ordered some fried chicken with ponzu sauce and vegetable fried rice. The bacon wrapped enokis were delicious – the mushrooms infused with smoky porky goodness. The courgettes although boring, were also good, but the squid was dry and tasteless.
The pig’s tongue was also a disappointment being far too chewy and didn’t taste particularly nice, unlike the chicken oysters grilled with yakitori sauce, which were succulent and flavourful. The slightly spicy vegetable fried rice (fried with kimchi) was pretty tasty too and went well with the grilled meats.
The ox tongue was probably the best kushiyaki we had, the meat tender and flavoured well with sauce. The gizzards had a nice springy texture but unfortunately were poorly seasoned, so a bit bland. The chicken karaage (lightly floured and fried, served with with a light ponzu dipping sauce) was a nice change from the grilled items and pretty good but I do think the one I make at home is better, plus I prefer it served with tonkatsu sauce (mixed with a bit of japanese mayo).
The quality of the food may be a little inconsistent and it’s nothing like the proper izakayas in Japan, but still a good option for a quick bite on a week night or a casual meal with a bunch of friends where you can drink and snack into the night.
Bincho Yakitori Grill and Bar
16 Old Compton Street
London, W1D 4TL
t. 020 7287 9111