Saturday, 30 October 2010

Jinkichi, Hampstead & The Food Guide

I like lists. I write a lot of them, taking deep satisfaction in ticking them off, and mild panic when they sit there, taunting me. I have a list for daily to-dos, a list for must-visit restaurants, a list for must-cook recipes; it's never ending. The Sunday Times has produced a list of its own in association with Harden's. Having spoken to the editor of this list while dining at Jinkichi, a Japanese restaurant in Hampstead, she told us that this list is based on food alone. No scores for ambience, none for service; just down to the nitty gritty - food.

I'm in two minds as to how I feel about that. While undoubtedly food is the most important element, an average experience can be lifted by great service, or ambience. However, this list is also a powerful tool because of its Harden's connection; it's not a list based on AA Gill's taste, or Coren's fancies. Instead, it's a number of people's views. It goes live at midnight on Sunday and in addition to Sunday's supplement you can find The Food List here. Sorry, but it's behind the paywall. You may be interested to hear that Gidleigh Park in Devon is ranked number one ahead of The Fat Duck.

Still, what of Jinkichi? It's ranked number 72 on the list. We had a selection of skewers:

Pork with shiso leaves - these were excellent. Smoky meat was decently fatty with citrus tang of the shiso.

Chicken balls were the least adventurous of our choices. They were surprisingly soft, none of that bounce I had expected.

Chicken gizzards were exact opposite. Gristly, chewy (and this is a good thing) and satisfyingly chickeny.

Ox tongue skewers had a lovely bounce to them; these were my favourite.

We had a hell of a lot of deep fried stuff too.

Agedashi tofu were beautifully crisp, though I was disappointed that they were made with quite firm tofu. I'm told a lot of places now do this as it's easier to handle.

Tempura again showed that someone was adept at the fryer.

Chicken karage was served with a ponzu dipping sauce which was spicy and full of mouth tingling freshness. Deep fried octopus was rather pointless; you couldn't tell it was octopus, it was just a texture in batter.

As if that wasn't enough, we ordered some other bits. Standouts in particular:

Grilled salmon jaw. Perfectly cooked and the grated daikon accompaniment was very moreish. Black cod miso was similarly excellent.

Nigiri and sashimi were all good, fresh examples but I particularly enjoyed the cubes of tuna sashimi with natto. I asked for it as I'm determined not to let my first experience of natto put me off; this was far more subtle and enjoyable.

All washed down with some Sapporos and a sake, it was an excellent meal. Hampstead is a bit bloody far though.


73 Heath Street
London NW3 6UG

Tel: 020 7794 6158

Jin Kichi on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

love this kind of food, so thanks for reviewing, i will be checking it out soon x

Anonymous said...

I love meat, and am so jealous. This food looks great!

Jonathan said...

Sounds like a seriously good meal. Decent Japanese food is something I am sorely missing in Scandiland.

Love the idea of salmon jaw. Very Flintstones. Will be interesting to see the full list.

Anthony Silverbrow said...

As with any journey, it's only far depending on where you start out.

Anyway, as for that list I thought it was bloody odd. Really weird rankings and reviews and very unsubtle. Not impressed.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Damn, that looks good. But then fry-age is usually a good thing, period. But, eh, salmon jaw? What's that like texture-wise?

And yes - Hampstead is too bloody far ;)

Chris Pople said...

Salmon jaw looks interesting - for a second there I was imagining a giant hybrid salmon monster with a huge flabby jaw but then I realised it must just mean a special cut that happens to look like a jawbone.

Things On Sticks are ace.

Unknown said...

Funnily enough I just reviewed a place in Hampstead today as well - not only is it far, it is also uphill all the way if you cycle! But it is beautiful and sounds like the Japanese is worth the trip

G Storey said...

Hollow Legs, a pleasure to meet you yesterday. I'm digging the reviews that I've read this morning. Keep it up. Have a look at my poetry blog if you get a chance:


Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

For one moment I thought that was a tarantula on top of the tofu. Yikes.