Yumi Izakaya: Casual Anniversary Date Night

When we finally managed to drag ourselves away from The Club during our staycation at The Langham it was dinner time. As we were having a very luxe experience for our anniversary, we fancied a casual dinner, so I had made a reservation at newly opened Yumi Izakaya on Shaftsbury Avenue. 

An izakaya is an informal drinking place where the food is generally nibbles, small plates and isn’t generally the focus of the evening. With that in mind, Yumi Izakaya’s menu is made up of a selection of small sharing dishes, robata grilled skewers and some larger dishes.
We started with some edamame beans whilst we perused the menu. Served with soy, mirin and salt these were the perfect nibble. 

The dishes arrived as they were ready, which meant that our table was always full and there was plenty to go around!

Aubergine braised in sake, mirin and soy was one of my favourite dishes of the night. Thick chunks of tender aubergine were deliciously flavoured. I think even Andrea (the sauce queen) would have been impressed with the amount of sauce on this dish!

I’m ever so slightly in love with crab at the moment; whenever I see it on a menu I can’t resist ordering it. In fact, it’s pretty much up there with beef tartar… It meant that the crab korroke, brown and white crab croquettes, were a must order for us.

Beautifully crisp on the outside and bursting full of tender crab meat. We both really enjoyed this dish, though wish there had been slightly less sauce on the inside of the croquettes as the delicious meat was somewhat lost.

As a serious tempura fan, I was very intrigued by the sound of sweet corn tempura.

A beautifully presented dish (all of the dishes were, really), but not my favourite of the night. There wasn’t as much flavour to the sweetcorn as I was hoping which was a little disappointing.

Our next dish was the special of the evening – and it was so good that I really think it should be made a more permanent item. Sweet, spicy and with a great crunch from the batter, the Korean chicken was the hands down winner of the evening.

Maybe not the most date-friendly dish as I slightly ended up with sauce all over my face (impressive, I know), but a real winner in terms of flavours. I’ve read some reviews that say that they didn’t have particularly crunchy batter, but I can only hope that was a slight off night because for us, this dish was amazing.

We ordered a selection of the grilled chicken skewers including, thigh, wings and heart, as well as pork belly.

Generally the skewers were very small portions, so be prepared to order more than two each if you don’t want to leave hungry. For me the wings were the winners; salty, crisp skin with lovely tender meat. The thigh (second from the left) was tasty, but there really wasn’t much to the serving at all.

The pork belly (far left) was also a great choice with tender meat and a lovely sticky glaze, though I felt it could have done with a little more glaze to really bring out the flavour.

As we had already enjoyed afternoon tea and pre-dinner canapés, we only ordered one large dish to share between us. We opted for the beef donburi which was roasted hanger steak, served medium rare, with a miso BBQ sauce, rice and onsen egg. 

The meat was perfectly pink and we loved the BBQ sauce. When mixed together this dish really was delicious, though a little extra of the BBQ sauce it would have been an even better dish.

There’s not many places on Shaftsbury Avenue that I’d go, but Yumi Izakaya is a great little find. The only things that would stop me going back in a heartbeat are slightly small portion sizes with fairly high prices. That said, give me that Korean chicken any day of the week!

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