Consistently good Japanese fare in a stealthy wrapper... Taking a walk down Old Compton Street it's easy to miss the hidden gem that is Taro! Even then first impressions don't count decor wise as the place is always busy with those in the know about the tasty array of Japanese goodness within.
Anywhere this central that can feed you two stonking great bento boxes and beers for under £40 for two gets a lot of love in my books!
I am a creature of habit and their Ebi Fry bento is something to behold: four mouthwatering fried king prawns in Panko drizzled with a thick sweet sauce, salmon & tuna sashimi, crab stick and avocado rolls, edamame & bean sprouts plus a bowl of rice and a bowl of miso...
Not finished yet: for under £15!! Throw that down your neck with an Asahi or Ramune retrospective lemonade ;) and you're in Heaven!
The staff are attentive but not overpowering in my experience (go atleast twice a month!)
Give it a bash...
This place is like Pizza Express for Italian food, a place for a quick easy Japanese fix but not for it's quality. It is a small chain after all with one near Cannon Street, Hampstead and one nearer to Piccadilly Circus. Nothing was particularly great and ranging from standard to below average.
One thing I do like is it's simple decor, below in the basement so when you're looking outside from above you see the heads of hungry diners eating. Of course when you're actually a diner below you're quite oblivious to this unless you look up and catch eye to those sneaky peepers,
Like most Taro it consist of lots of small wooden tables, quite closely packed and yellow and white contrasting painted surroundings.The noise levels was quite high in the small spacing and being located in Soho so definitely not one for a romantic setting.
We started with a few small plates although everything came together. The spinach was fresh, served cold and well seasoned. I wish they had the other variety served with sesame paste but they stuck with the more simple version, cooked with salt and sprinkled with sesame seeds which was good as it was.
Being fans of Takoyaki we knew the ones we ordered were not freshly made in a takoyaki maker but probably bought frozen and then deep fried. The benefit of these ones were that they were more crispy than the usual and perfectly shaped but you don't get the same ooziness and soft texture as those grilled.
Sadly the yakitori were a bit disappointing being dense and quite dry. They did not taste as fresh as we would have liked them to be and a bit overdone on the grill. The sauce was also quite overpowering.
The tempura maki rolls were quite below average, probably like the ones you get from Wasabi. As the prawn wasn't fresh you really can't taste much making the roll itself was pretty bland. The batter was also quite thick so it took away the texture of the prawn itself and became the most dominant in taste. At least the rice held together and cooked well.
The unagi nirgri was slightly better although still lack that bounce if the eel was more fresh. The texture was not the same but I do love the taste of eel in it's sauce which is hard to get wrong so that made up for it.
The most disappointing part of the meal turned out to be my main, Tonkatsu curry udon. In fact nothing was right. Firstly it was presented so poorly that it was even appetising to look at. The pork was sliced but mixed around with the udon as if someone had played with it. It was also overdone so the meat was tough around the edges and the batter very thick and greasy. The curry itself was watery and bland and could be because they didn't drain the udon well enough when they cooked it. But it was also flavourless, very one noted and I can say I will never order this dish again.
I seriously don't remember Taro being so poor at their other branch in Brewer Street so it could have just been this branch. I definitely do not associate the food being Japanese but more a fast food chain replica. Presentation usually plays a vital part in Japanese cuisine and this place lacks it.
I've been here a few times, it's great if you want to have a casual meal. I usually order the don - have tried the spicy chicken don and the una don which was tasty. The don usually comes with a bed of small bed of vegetables, except the unagi one which came with some pickles on the side.
I also tried the soft shell crab sushi rolls, but wasn't quite a fan of it - a bit big and clumsily made.
Overall good value for money, and great stop-by to satisfy any sudden cravings.
This is a great place for dinner but an even better place for lunch on the weekend. The food is not too expensive and good quality. My friend and I ordered A LOT of food. We shared a bottle of sake and some beers to celebrate a three week detox. It was a really nice meal, however the only thing I didn't like about it was the lighting. With a dimmer setting, the place could be super charming. But the fluorescent light is really unappealing. Don't come here on a date! I went again on a Sunday afternoon and it was a whole other ballgame. The ambience is way more relaxed and people sit there for hours. Dinner is a lot more fast paced. I will go again but only before 5pm.
There's undoubtedly something to a Hayao Miyazaki film that, at some point, makes you crave a bento box. And when you want a bento box, you want something that is going to be as good as how you see it in a Miyazaki film.
This is what happened to me while I watched Satsuki make lunch for her little sister Mei and her father in the award-winning Totoro.
My boyfriend didn't skip a beat in suggesting Taro on Old Compton Street in London. Like other things he has great taste in, he has great taste in picking sushi restaurants.
Taro has the typical-style menu, with fonts all array and pages that could be better designed. I also didn't care for the overly-warmed saturated photographs. Some of the menu items offered in the bento box are not available individually, like the shrimp (prawn) tempura. You can't substitute items in the bento box - so forget trying to barter with your server for a quick swap of seaweed salad in for bean sprouts and pickles. It just won't happen. If there was a bit more flexibility with the menu, I'd quickly raise this to a 5 star. I'll let the horrible design of the menu pass on account that the owner, Mr. Taro, is really freaking old. (Mr. Taro, I believe you to be quite the busy old man running a few sushi restaurants in London, but perhaps we can make a deal. Private message me if social media has reached you.)
The plum wine coats your palette like a fine Moscato. The sushi rolls look like fluffs of fresh rice and fish. The tempura is prepared in a traditional Japanese-style. The chicken teriyaki was roasted to perfection. This all came out very quickly, too, so arrive hungry.
For an American coming from a flailing, shitty economy - expect to take a bit of a karate chop, or shutō-uchi, to the wallet. A dinner for two--2 plum wines, 2 bento boxes (including two delicious bowls of miso soup), 1 seaweed salad, and 3 pcs of California roll--came to £45 (including gratuity).
That's $70.33 USD. Yeah. (How you loving your military-industrial complex warmongering now, America?)
But seeing how it's Miyazaki-quality Japanese food, it's well worth the price. Just don't watch a whole bunch of Miyazaki films at once because you will go broke.
I was just working on my list of Japanese hits and misses and went searching for my Taro review, and it turns out I've never written one! Senior moments.
Taro was there when I first moved to London and was looking for a proper bowl of noodles (udon is my favorite in this case, although my husband is a big fan of their ramen). The ambiance is terrific--a near-constant stream of people filing through the door, sitting to eat during lunch and dinner hours, and hurrying off again. It's a hive of bustling waiters maneuvering between closely packed tables. The room is bright and spartan, and the open kitchen only adds to the frenetic energy. It really does hold a special place in my heart.
Besides the noodles, the tonkatsu and the simple nigiri options are solid picks. I've never had a bento, but they're seemingly a hot item as well. Word to the wise, however: they put single diners at the counter, and it can be hard to get the attention of a waiter once sat there. Don't be afraid to throw up an arm to get some attention. It's definitely that type of place.
It's not a celebratory or a trophy place. You can't show off London's Japanese offerings by taking your guests to Taro, but it is a great great place for a quick and cheap bite with what looks like almost fresh food and reasonably flavoured.
The gyoza is a sharing portion (6 or 7). Average. Along with that came Asahi beer.
I felt like Katsu curry but ordered a portion of the chicken Teriyaki don instead, which comes on a bed of rice. Cabbage, carrots, onions, sprouts and green pepper. Very wholesome with a not so unreasonable compromise on freshness. Portions are generous and I couldn't finish all the rice (having had a skinny latte half hour before)
Despite anything above that might sound negative, I can't imagine you would get significantly better value for your money in this part of the West End.
Taro is definitely one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in London. The prices are really reasonable (dare I say cheap in London terms...) the portions are good and the staff are quick and efficient. The location also means it's a really convenient place to go for a quick, healthy meal if you are in the West End.
I nearly always get a bento box when I come here because they have my ideal selection of foods in it, with a little bit of everything I fancy - in fact the bento box here is the best I've ever had in terms of the variety of content. So. Much. Food. I normally get the salmon teriyaki bento which comes with: miso soup, rice, 2 pieces of salmon teriyaki, edamame, salmon and tuna sashimi, 4 maki rolls, 2 nigiri, bean sprouts and pickles. Loads of food! All for about £11. Bargain.
The place itself is pretty simple, with little benches to sit on. It's not really somewhere you would want to get comfy and spend the whole evening at, but it's comfortable enough. It can get pretty busy in the evenings, but there's not normally a wait for a table, or at least, not a long wait.
Oooh, also, the green tea and sesame seed ice creams are yummy! :)
I can't believe that I've not written a review about this place. I quite love the bento boxes here and frequently get the teriyaki chicken with a nice large glass of plum wine. Its tasty and quite inexpensive.
Their sushi selection can be a bit hit and miss regarding how fresh it is. I've been during lunch time and it's been decent. But I've also come late on a Sunday and you could tell that some of the sashimi has been sitting for a while. Moral of the story, come early if you want fresh sashimi.
Taro is a place I go to very often without realising because I always know the food is going to be good. It's close to work which makes it easy and I go there for lunch and dinner and my favourite meal there is the bento box, as you get a miso soup, sushi, sashimi and a mini hot meal of your choosing with pickles and rice and other nice things. The pan-fried udon noodles are good, as are the gyoza, which I am a big fan of generally and it's cheap and cheerful. I often take my friends here and the price is excellent and the sashimi melts like butter in your mouth.
Sometimes, you can spot Mr Taro, who obviously looks very similar to the cartoon logo and it's a game I sometimes play with friends to see which restaurant he's in (as there are two, the other located just off Piccadilly).
Taro is one of my favourite Japanese restaurants. It is a great place to sit back for a good meal. Located on the edge of Soho, close to Leicester Square, it is the perfect location for catching up with friends or filling up after a couple of drinks.
Sushi lovers will be delighted at the choice and freshness of the fish. Everything I have tasted from the miso soups, to the bento boxes, or the teriyaki meal have been delightful. The setting is very simple with the kitchen located on a mezzanine ground floor and the restaurant in a high-ceilinged basement. The waiters are usually very polite and friendly, but service is usually already included in the bill. Be aware that you might have to share a table if you are not a big group but this has never caused me any trouble as of yet.
Taro is a simple yet tasty Japanese restaurant along funky Old Compton Street. Situated in the basement in very minimalist surroundings, the staff work efficiently to the point of it seeming they want to feed you then turf you out.
The seating is along wooden benches that are surprisingly comfortable. The menu serves up both sushi and hot dishes. My firm favourites are the pork ramen and the chicken teriyaki. They are amazingly flavourful and filling.
Good restaurant for a quick meal with friends, but the lighting is too bright for any kind of romance.
Most meals cost between £5 and £9.
I honestly think Taro is as good as it gets with sushi in London when you sum price, location, portions and quality.
You can always find a seat but the turnaround is good, which means the food is always fresh. A sushi plate (one of the full ones) will leave you well satisfied but not exceedingly full. This is advisable, since space is left for a pint or two and the energy devoted to digestion will not drain the brainpower you might need to watch a West End show.
The large window onto the street is conducive to drunk comedy. Once a group of drunk students mooned Taro patrons through the glass, which I laughed off as another "this is London" moment.
I find Taro's sushi very tasty and I like their staff's efficiency.
From what I can remember the vegetarian options are fairly limited, so know your tastes and know the menu.
I recommend going for the sushi platters rather than the individual orders. Less hassle and better value. The sake was on the high end of the price scale, so stick to Asian beers.
Not much not to like--big wooden tables with benches and lots of them, extensive Japanese menu, mega bento boxes, beer and cheap prices.
I enjoyed some sushi rolls and Udon and looked on with envy on the b-friend's bento box.
Service was slightly spotty because we were in the extension room, but for cheap, fast, filling and friendly Japanese you can do no wrong.
this place is a good place to hit in soho if you want good, cheap, quick sushi! Me and my friend both had the chicken katsu curry. It was good! the actua chicken tasted really cheap but the potato, rice and sauce were nice!!
A simple Japanese restaurant I do enjoy popping in when I feel like some bento, in which I order the Teriyaki Chicken. It's filling, full of flavour and good value for money. A bowl of their Miso soup is always warming, and healthy too.
If you don't fancy one of their bento boxes, you can also have a range of sashimi, sushi, and soup noodles - all of which is served fast and efficiently.
Whenever I'm in Soho, i always find myself in here, whether i am hungry or not! It's a really nice, cosy Japanese restaurant that always seems to be busy and has a nice buzz about it.
Staff are incredibly diligent and friendly, although they do seem rather eager to chuck you out once you've finished eating.
I always have the udon noodle veggie soup, it is delicious, with a side of sweet potato tempura and a bottomless cup of green tea. I've never spent more than a tenner in here either; cheap and tasty!
I am assured that their sushi is amazing, as is their vegetable curry. I am hungry just writing this review, i know where I'm having lunch tomorrow!
Perfect for cheap, filling Japanese food. Service is fast and efficient. The only reason that this doesn't get five stars is that I prefer the Taro on Brewer Street...!
I enjoyed a chicken bento box before a gig here this evening.
The service and delivery of food was nice & quick which is always a good thing to know if you're in a rush. We sat downstairs on nice wooden tables and the only downside was that it was very brightly lit.
The bento box was nice and big featuring chicken teryaki (dirty but nice), tuna and salmon sashimi, well cooked rice, edemame, bean sprouts, a bowl of miso soup and er some lemons - all for £9.
Great little sushi and noodle bar with super-fast service and a friendly welcome. A cartoon of the owner's face is the restaurant's logo and it's amazing how much the simple cartoon resembles him.
The Teriyaki Dons (salmon, chicken, beef or tofu steak) were very filling, served in a box with lots of rice and crisp vegetable and great value for money.
Pleased there's yet another good and more traditional alternative to Wagamama with speedy service that makes it a great lunchtime option.
I've been to Taro Brewer St. a couple of times before and had a nice enough experience (not outstanding by any means, but decent food and really basic service for cheap enough) which is why I've given the place two stars instead of the one yesterday's visit deserved. Yesterday I went with two other people to the Old Compton Street branch. It was busy but not rammed, and we ordered gyu don, ebi bento and salmon teriyaki bento. Well, our three meals came 10 minutes apart from each other, so that when the first person had already finished their meal, the third person hadn't even received theirs! Nobody apologised, or even acknowledged this.
Really bad, slow and inattentive service went on throughout the night.
Salmon teriyaki bento was pretty bad, the slices of salmon were really thin and the sauce was overly sweet. The tuna sashimi in the box tasted awfully old and was more of a fatty chunk than a delicious, thin slice.
Gratuity was added despite the horrible service received, which we paid because we don't like to kick up a fuss, but were not happy about.
Overall definitely not recommended, will maybe give the Brewer Street branch another chance, but Old Compton has really not much to offer!
I went to Taro after reading some of these Yelp reviews, I was on the look-out for a Japanese spot that was quite low-key, with good quality food, in the Soho area.
I agree with most of the reviews here. On the plus side, the food is very well priced. I had a Udon soup for around £6.50 - it was delicious. My companion had a chicken stir-fry concotion. She was also complementary.
On the minus side, I would say that the atmosphere is actually pretty cold. It is extremely light in there with minimal effort on decoration. In most Japanese places that works quite well. It made me feel that I was sitting in a cellar with wooden benches - which I was in effect. The menu is definitely tailored to an English audience as well. The sushi was far from authentic - a lot of Califoria rolls, that sort of thing.
Overall though - good food, cheap price. It would work well for a quick bite or a lunch. I recommend somewhere else such as Busaba Eathni or So for something with more ambience. Enjoy.
very tasty food, quick service and reasonable prices make this Japanese restaurant a place not to be missed! I've been eating here for the past 6 years and I never had an issue :)
I went there 3 times with family and each time ordered different plates. Sushi, Ramen, Udon, Tenpura, Oyakodon .... nothing bad but nothing special. I will go back couple of more times to make sure. One problem was space though... Especially with toddler, a very challenging.
I went here last night with three of my friends before a show and was pleasantly surprised. Smack dab in the middle of the SOHO food scene lies Taro. The ambience is great with a good crowd even on a tuesday evening. We ate downstairs. I tried the Miso Ramen, the vegetable gyoza, and the seafood cha han. They were all very good, especially the ramen.
Best to come with friends. Really lovely people in a tiny place.
I love eating here and suspect my frequent (read daily) visits for lunch may worry the staff (I order the same thing and have done for months). The menu is straightforward and very affordable (I get a big lunch of rice, veg and fried tofu with green tea for £6.90) and the service swift. The Brewer st branch can get very busy so I normally head to Old Compton as it's less crowded. The food is heavenly and if I'm feeling particularly wealthy (not often alas) I order sushi, sake, yakitori or dumplings as well which are all very tasty. A lovely place to stop for a great lunch or dinner.
I came here for a quick bite to eat with some friends and lo and behold - as a huge fan of ramen this place satisfied that craving at only £6.70! (I got the pork one.) Wowza! Service was fast and you aren't really coming here for the atmosphere - tables turned around quickly and staff, despite all the hubbub, were very attentive. I would like to come back again for the sushi!
I am a big fan of Taro and I eat there often. The food is very good quality and the portions are reasonably large. Combine that with low prices and you have a winner.
I tend to stick with the chicken yakisoba which is a great simple noodle dish but I also recommend their Spicy Ramen. They also have classics like Chicken Teriyaki and a selection of Sushi prepared by dedicated chefs.
It can be hard to get a table at peak hours and they try to pack the place tight. I don't mind eating there on my own since there are seats at the sushi bar overlooking the open kitchen.
I've probably eaten at this restaurant the most of all restaurants in London. It won't likely win a Michelin star but for a straight forward Japanese style restaurant it is perfect.
I confess to being a bit of a Ramen snob but I think this place is as good as it gets in Soho. I've not eaten anything else here - only Ramen - so I can't speak for the rest of the menu (unless you include a Han-Chahan with Ramen Set). Sadly, Taro has taken Chanpon Ramen off the menu for lack of enthusiasm - which is unfortunate... as it was one of the reasons I used to make a pilgrimage there. Nevertheless, his other bowls are pretty decent. I knew Taro from before, when he had a place on Finchley Road in Hampstead and he's always been a good restauranteur who cares about his customers. I'm still hoping he'll invite me to his Japanese members' bar ;)
Service was quick and lunch menus are reasonably priced so it was good for the money. I probably won't go back if I had more time to walk around and find somewhere more delicious and authentic (I was starving!).
Went here twice for dinner on my 4 day trip to London. They have very good bento boxes and sushi dishes. However, it is not a high end Japanese restaurant. Great if you are having a quick dinner/lunch and the prices are very fair. If you are treating special guests, then this is not the place. Just simple, quick, cheap and decent Japanese restaurant which won't break your wallet.
For a cheap and cheerful casual meal with a few friends you can't go past Taro. Located right smack in the middle of Soho you will find their meals are good value, delicious and in very generous portions. You know the food is authentic when you see the Japanese Chefs as you walk past the upstairs sushi bar + kitchen, as well as the all-Japanese staff. The staff are friendly and the service is quick.
The main restaurant is in the sunny basement and you get a communal feeling. The good thing stops there. The food is really mediocre. Why on earth do they want to deep fry Chicken Teriyaki? It must be grilled! Katsu Don tasted nothing special. They should use dashi with eggs; it only tasted soya sauce. They desperately need a good chef from Western Japan.
Not sure why this place has any good reviews. Really bad service and bad food. My spicy tuna was gray! ewwww
I would like to give 9/10 rating for chicken teriyaki. I tried the chicken curry rice and its just ok. The miso soup is not good :( its cold.
yummy quick japanese fare: teriyaki sauce is among the greatest on the planet. Good place to go for a tasty meal in a hurry, and reasonable value too - at around £23ish for a meal for 2 [more if you're ravenous]. Bear in mind the restaurant closes between 1450 and 1730 if you're off peak.
Taro is my favourite place to eat any fresh, tasty and delicious sushi. The atmosphere is really good, all japanese chefs are very concentrate and quiet as though they work in a kind of laboratory of food. I really love sushis, and this place is fantastic, It is really affordable, and fresh.
Went here for lunch. Good service. Had a Pork Kimchi bento which was marked as 'spicy'. Sub-par, barely spiced kimchi. Boring.
Yummy! I've never not had a good meal here. Good value, if a little pared-back and cramped (come here alone and expect to be sat with another total random). Good to dive into after a hard afternoon's shopping and browsing the nearby sex shops. Did I say that out loud? Yes. Yes I did :-)
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