Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Glorious Jin Kichi - Japanese food for the soul

I am quite dim and also pretty shallow, so I was very surprised when I found out that the Japanese grill things, as well as plucking them out of the sea, strangling them and eating them raw with green horseradish.

I like sushi, (I mean I genuinely think 'mmm' when I think about it), ever since I found out that the way to eat it is by paying about twice as much for it as you think is reasonable. Sushi, I was interested to find out, is not really that stuff you get at Pret.

But however much I can thrill, in the right mood, to a really fresh bit of fatty hamachi, when I catch a whiff of something grilled, fried, hot, fatty, salty, I can't really concentrate on the sushi stuff. I want dripping porky flavours, charred salty meat.

And really, there is no better place for this kind of thing than Jin Kichi in Hampstead. A tiny place, with a bar facing an open grill upstairs and more seating downstairs (but really you want to be at the bar), it's not the kind of place where you can just walk in off the street and hope for the best. Regulars know that you have to book in advance for any hope of a table, or if you want to sit at the bar (yes, you want to sit at the bar) you can usually get a spot for two or three people on the day, ringing when they open at 3pm.

I'm going tonight and I can't wait. The open grill, the delicious skewered niblets of meat, the fun of watching idiots who haven't booked being turfed back out in to the cold night and the soothing warm sake slowly denting my mental faculties... I mean... denting them even further.

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