Tel: +44 (0)20 7287 1738
Address: 56 Brewer Street, Piccadilly, W1R 3FA
Cuisine Type: Japanese
Piccadilly Circus (PICCADILLY, BAKERLOO)
I always think it is a good sign when you go to a restaurant for food of a particular national style and the clientele actually hail from that nation. So it bode well when we were taken downstairs at Ten Ten Tei, a Japanese restaurant on Brewer Street, the Japanese equivalent of China Town, to find half the tables occupied by Japanese students or businessmen. The basement dining area is intimate – you almost get the feeling of eating in someone’s home – but has the drawback of becoming very smoky if someone smokes.
The menu comprises a mix of sushi and sashimi, rice and noodle dishes, with a range of intriguing specials. Having had kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) recently, we resisted the urge to order the colourful platters of sushi we saw being carted to adjacent tables, a combination of glistening pieces of salmon, tuna, mackerel, salmon roe and prawn, as well as more unusual fish such as turbot, red snapper, cuttle fish and scallop, and opted instead for hot food.
Una Don (£9), grilled eel with kabayaki sauce on rice was delicious, the slightly sweet barbeque sauce so moreish that I finished what had looked like a huge bowl of rice. The accompanying bowl of miso soup, in contrast to that served by the majority of Japanese restaurants I’ve been to, was not too salty for my liking. Nabeyaki Udon (£8) topped noodles with egg, prawn tempura, chicken, seaweed and vegetables in a delicious broth. Servings are sufficiently generous to be satisfying, though for a few pounds more, you can upgrade to a larger portion size.
Feeling adventurous, we also ordered Sutamina tofu (£4.50) from the specials menu. Billed as fermented beans with sweet potato, this turned out to be a block of cold tofu, topped with flavourless beans, seaweed and a raw egg from an unidentified source (too big to be quail, too small to be chicken) – no sign of any sweet potato. Suspecting infringement of the Trade Descriptions Act (or more irritatingly, a mix up on the part of the waitress or kitchen), we questioned our waitress, who informed us in a mixture of halting English and fluent Japanese that the “potato” was the egg, and is considered a potent natural source of energy. This information didn’t make the dish any more palatable, but will teach us to order blindly in future!
Most diners drink green tea (complimentary with your meal), so use the money you save on wine to splash out on the food.