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  • 4.0 star rating
    14/1/2014
    1 check-in here

    One of my colleagues keeps telling me this place is brilliant, but I found it hard to get my head around the idea of vegan sushi. However my fiancée and I (neither of us are vegan or vegetarian) both felt in need of more vegetables after the rich-food of our Christmas holidays, so we gave it a try...

    They have lots of set menus, along with small al a carte dishes and larger donburi and noodle based things. The style is like traditional home cooking, rather than kaiseki-style vegan.

    As everyone has mentioned, the sushi is pretty cool. They didn't serve any of the vegan sushi that I expected (like inari-zushi or tomorokoshi) but their alternatives are innovative and tasty:
    * tempura-ed nori
    * fried tofu
    * spinach
    * seaweed - like the seasoned seaweed you get inside onigiri
    * carrot surrounded by nori
    * miso/seaweed - this was the highlight...it was really good.

    Pro-tip: They each have their own flavour, so you don't need to add soy sauce...

    However, I liked the tempura donburi even MORE than the sushi. It was Kakiage (so lots of shredded vegetables fried in a big lump.) This used to be my favourite canteen dish at my university dormitory in Japan...but this was an even tastier version! It was perfectly seasoned and served on REALLY good, grain-packed, slightly purple coloured rice. Delicious.

    Lastly, the sesame pudding and kabocha cakes were both loooovely.

    Less Good bits:
    * I have ordered take-away bento lunches with some colleagues at work, and found the portions were a bit small. I think this place is best for dinner rather than for bentos.
    * The music was terrible - it was like elevator jazz music.

    Tastecard saving: £0 (They wouldn't let me use it as we didn't call in advance)

  • 3.0 star rating
    3/4/2014

    It is hard to find a good Vegan restaurant in London and is still the case after our visit to Itadaki Zen.

    It is a Japanese organic, Vegan restaurant and their web site states that their special rice, "Kanseihan will be a valuable friend that will protect your health against the raging wars of the world" and that their seasoning "Kanseihan is the secret, all-powerful source of flavours ... carefully combine the essence of seaweeds, which represent the delicacies of the sea, with the essences of plants, which stand for the delicacies of the earth...."  This all sounds philosophical & spiritual, and is meant to promote good health, so I was totally surprised by the saltiness of their Tendon (£13).  Both Kakiage (deep-fried julienne of vegetables) and Kenseihan (see above) were very salty.  Too much salt not only is bad for your health, but also kills the natural sweetness/flavours of the ingredients.  Quite often Tempura/Kakiage is served with a Tempura dip, but I guess it is difficult to produce good one without Katsuo (dried bonito) stock.

    Miso Soup was very bland, lacked flavour and tasted odd; where was Miso??  I think it was flavoured with little Miso and some soya sauce and konbu.  Vegan Miso Soup lacks the depth of Katsuo stock, so it is not fair to expect deep umami, but in order to compensate that, they do need to use good flavoursome Miso and vegetable stock.

    According to the menu, our set menu was supposed to come with Marinated Peanuts, but we were given Simmered Soya Beans with Hijiki instead.  Unfortunately our waitress failed to mention this.

    One of the side dishes was Green Beans with gooey dressing (mashed tofu & a bit of sesame?) which was pleasant, but again it needed something to enhance the flavour such as toasted sesame seeds.  Another one was Boiled Soya Bean Sprouts in Chilli & Garlic sauce; garlic killed the delicate sweetness of the sprouts.  It would have been much better dressed with soya sauce, sesame seeds, sugar, a bit of chilli and sesame seed oil.

    Kimpab set (£13) came with 8 pieces of tiny rolled rice (not vinegary like sushi rice) with fresh vegetables in the middle.  Harumaki (Spring Rolls) were crunchy outside and mushy inside.  They were OK but not worth £13.

    There was only one waitress and she was very polite but completely lacked knowledge of the food they served.  She kept going back to the kitchen to get the answers to our questions, but still failed to give us sufficient answers.  I ended up going to the kitchen and talked to the chef directly.

    On our visit on Wednesday evening, we were the only diners until one female diner came.  Judging from the prices and what they were offering on the menu, it wasn't a surprise.  Their cooking is OK and the ingredients were fresh, but the food lacked depth and was nothing special; most of the items on the menu weren't worth the price.  Miso Soup in particular was unpleasant.  Instead of changing the flavour for the Western palate like adding salt to rice, they should stick with the traditional Shojin Ryori (Japanese Vegan food) style and expand the menu away from the current one based heavily on rice/noodle.

    Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue" album (my favourite Jazz album) was playing on the background and we were the only diners most of the time, so the atmosphere was relaxed; if the place was busy, I doubt it if the waitress can cope.  If you are expecting a cleansing effect and philosophical enlightenment from eating there, you will be disappointed.  However, if you are curious, try their lunch menu at £6.

  • 3.0 star rating
    14/6/2014

    This is a Japanese Vegan restaurant.  When I arrived, I asked about the sauces but the waitress didn't know the answer. I ate Sushi Roll which was a very small portion of rice roll in seaweed.  Ir was quite bland.  I had a side dish of soya bean sprouts which was tasty but too small and instead of the peanuts on the menu, I was given soya beans in sauce.  Part of my meal included 2 spring rolls.  They had a very mushy filling although it was quite tasty.  

    My friend ate Tempura which was well presented in a bowl.  The Tempura was crunchy and tasty.  It was served with a bowl of miso soup which was not very authetic  Again instead of the peanuts, she was served soya beans.

    The menu is not huge so they should really produce the food that is on the menu.

  • 4.0 star rating
    2/10/2013

    It's hard to explain. The taste was not exactly what I would expect from conventional so-called-Japanese-restaurants in London.

    The taste was neither fabulous nor elegant. It was plain and simple, but also nostalgic and satisfactory.

    Some may say the food is just mediocre and not special. Some may complain that the atmosphere inside is not as elegant as other big-named Asian restaurants.

    But I think that is the value of this restaurant. It may not look as luxurious as other Asian restaurants. But it will give you the feeling that you are actually in a small restaurant in Japan. The taste was good and somewhat similar to noodles I had in Japan. Moreover, it was not that expensive. Then, this restaurant surely deserves a high mark.

    If you got tired of going to the same typical Asian restaurants, this place is where you should consider.

    As an East Asian, I felt like being home.

  • 4.0 star rating
    31/5/2013
    1 check-in here

    The food is amazing here! It's more traditional Japanese food and not the typical items you'd find on a menu. This was exciting for me! There was so much flavor and everything tasted fresh.

    I went without a reservation, which probably wasn't a good idea. The place gets packed! The service was slow but I think they were doing the best they could. I would definitely go here again next time I'm in London.

  • 3.0 star rating
    2/3/2013

    Cozy, tidy, friendly.

    Despite it being vegetarian, I found the dishes acceptable even for a carnivore like myself.

    If somehow you're here against your will, highly recommend dishes with stronger flavor profiles, like japchae noodles, to tie you over until that next kebab. Some sake might help run that clock, too.

  • 4.0 star rating
    22/11/2012

    My husband and I were pleasantly surprised by this place. It's a small place, so make reservations if you can. Though we didn't, we were still able to get a table since it was still early in the evening.

    We ordered some set menus, and were able to sample a variety of palates. Who knew you could come up with so many flavors with it being all vegan? Itadaki Zen definitely have a talent for it!

    Though I prefer my sushi with lots of fish, I think this place is a great compromise for the vegetarians/vegans in a group.

  • 4.0 star rating
    26/10/2013

    Went here with a friend on a quiet Tuesday night. I had miso soup, spring rolls with a fermented chili sauce (not spicy), a rice and veggie dish, and a tea with ?rice? for dessert. These are subtle flavours but it was all very healthy. I would have liked to try many things on their menu. Good service. Recommended.

  • 5.0 star rating
    23/1/2013

    It's small, make a reservation.

    It's cozy and sweet but not cloying. It feels very simple.

    And the food is just amazing. It's all these beautiful vegetables, served up in combos, some hot or cold, inspired by sushi as we know it here, but vegetarian. They taste incredible, hearty, some served warm, some cold, just delicious, meticulously arranged and served.

    Try the goji berry tea for a lightly sweetened tea of beautifully blended tastes, especially with the pumpkin cakes for dessert.

  • 4.0 star rating
    28/4/2011
    First to Review

    Proper! If you're in the mood for some really tasty vegan Japanese food this is a great place to go. I am a devout carnivore so I was suitably sceptical when I crossed the threshold, but I left intending to come back.

    The staff are very polite and the food is freshly prepared to order. The harumaki spring rolls are light and, unlike many other types served across this green and pleasant land, you can tell what ingredients are in them, which is always a good thing. The tempura was light and crispy and served with some soft and tasty rice. The sasou tea was good and tasted vaguely nostalgic for some reason I can't quite put my finger on.

    Overall a great new experience. I'll be back

    • Qype User MissLA…
    • London
    • 15 friends
    • 39 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    4/8/2010

    Small and minimalist, Itadaki is a haven if you are vegan and/or love Asian food. Freshly prepared and very interesting we shared two mains, sushi and some sides which end up surprisingly filling considering it's all just veges.

    The sushi was super fresh, and the rice perfectly sticky. All of the other meals were easily shared and really interesting -- keep the menu with you as you won't believe what is in it all... clear sweet potato noodles anyone?!

    Shared an organic wine (yes, it isn't all holier-than-thou) which was really reasonable (13.50 bottle) and very crisp and zingy.

    Service is patchy, yet authentic. They obviously care about the quality of your meal and experience so helps excuse any misunderstandings all the way.

    5 stars for vegans, 4 for carnivores!

  • 5.0 star rating
    23/9/2011

    my sis in law and her hubby are visiting, and they are vegan.  there is a japanese vegan restaurant in sf that we really like, so when i found out there was one in london as well, i immediately wanted to go.  

    we came around 8 on a fri night and were seated right away.  the restaurant is small and cozy.  3 of us shared the itadaki noodle set, the tanno set, 2 orders of the garlic sushi rolls, and an order of natto.  everything was delicious and tasted so clean and healthy.  i loved all the rice and seaweed dishes, and the fresh tofu was great.  we got an order of the spicy sauce for dipping as well.

    for dessert, we had the orange pudding/jelly and the muffins.  i was totally full after finishing all this food (probably b/c of all the rice and fiber).  i will totally come back and try different dishes.

  • 4.0 star rating
    1/9/2012

    Sushi sushi sushi. Go for the vegan sushi - it's shockingly good with very well marinated japanese sea vegetables/pickles. The rest of the menu was more of a 3-star and not particularly spectacular. But solid 4 stars on the sushi alone

  • 3.0 star rating
    19/5/2012

    It's hard to find vegetarian Japanese food, so we felt pretty happy to
    find this one.

    The restaurant is very pleasantly cosy, though perhaps not as visually
    attractive as their Web site had led me to believe.  The food itself
    is perfectly reasonable: small portions presented quite well, tasty
    and fresh, and simple.  However, and it somewhat pains me to say this,
    nothing we had really stood out; we left not convinced we'd be back.

    It may be that we're a bit spoiled after having had the Zen temple
    vegetarian meals in Kyoto, which set as spectacular standard for
    Japanese (and indeed any) vegetarian food.  If you haven't had those,
    and are a vegetarian curious to go beyond the ubiquious veggie
    tempura, definitely give Itadaki Zen a try.  But if you still remember
    your Kyoto meals, you could maybe give this place a pass.

    • Qype User psimon…
    • London
    • 16 friends
    • 32 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    26/7/2011

    Vegan sushi, you say? I say, hmm, interesting.
    I'm a journalist. And I get invited to a fair few swanky eating joints for my work. And very often, it's part of a party  so it's not being laid on to my taste. And my heart sinks whenever I hear I'm going for sushi. Simply put, the only place I've ever been where sushi for veggies worked was Nobu in the Milan Armani store (told you about the swanky joints!). That was spectacular. But now, in the far less salubrious hollow between Kings Cross and Exmouth Market, is this  vegan sushi.
    So, in short order a raw review (ahem):
    1. Staff and interior stunning  intimate, hushed, very Japanese, enjoyable.
    2. Menu  utterly confusing, loads of stuff, not brilliantly clear for most of us non-sushi/Japanese regulars (and, of course, why would most vegans or veggies be au fait with Japanese sushi menus).
    3. Ethos  excellent  healthy, homegrown-where possible.
    4. All importantly  flavour. Delicate. Do not go expecting mega tongue-bursting, mouth-smacking flavours. Delicate, refined dishes gently tease out complex notes of flavour. I guess that's a Japanese thing. But once I got used to it, it was a very enjoyable thing.
    So, in all, broadly excellent and well worth a veggie/vegan visit!

    • Qype User gillbl…
    • London
    • 4 friends
    • 10 reviews
    2.0 star rating
    13/7/2011

    I was a bit disappointed by this. I got takeaway and the portions were very small for the price. The seaweed salad was a tiny amount in a little pot and the rice wasn't a full takeaway portion size. Also, I found the tofu dish very salty. Having said that, it was brilliantly cooked rice and the choices are interesting and healthy and offer a real change, so I think I would go back. Perhaps the lunchtime Bento box is a better option

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