Modernist soba and sushi in Temple - we Test Drive Yen

salmonwithcressMarinated salmon with seasonal cress

So what can you tell us about Yen?

It's the first outpost outside France for this Paris restaurant which specialises in fresh soba noodles.

Where is it exactly?

It's the sole restaurant in a super swanky development running between The Embankment and The Strand. The nearest tube would be Temple.

cocktailsCocktails in the galleried bar upstairs

Where should we meet friends for a drink?

The nearest old school pub is The Cheshire Cheese. Craft beer lovers should make a beeline for Temple Brew House around the corner on Essex Street. But Yen has an entirely separate cocktail bar with a gallery looking out over the main restaurant, so why not start there? The drink list includes a section on Japanese twists on cocktail classics and while our wagyu fat washed Old Fashioned (£16) was very good (coming with a stick of wagyu jerky) the clear winner was a Bloody Tokyo Mary (£9) made with Jinro, Honjozo sake and Manzanilla sherry.

Where should we sit?

it depends, really. There's a decent sized private dining room with its own bar and we liked our table with its view into the serene kitchen. Alternatively you could pop yourself up at the sushi bar which would be a great spot for solo dining.

sushibarThe sushi bar at Yen

Would it be an easy lunch pick?

Lunchtime offers a truncated menu as well as two interesting set options - a bento box packed with sashimi, tempura and main of the day alongside starters, soba/sushi and dessert for £39 or starter, sushi and soba for £27 which would be a good entry-level way to try this restaurant.

So soba's the thing here?

Yes, they make it fresh on site (and in view of the restaurant) every day.

You can choose from cold (£10.50) or hot (£11.50) and both come with spring onion and wasabi as well as spices to add. Of the two choices we definitely preferred the cold. There's also the option to add duck or scallops to it. We're not sure if they've changed the serving style but the cold ones come in a traditional bamboo draining basket, but no tray underneath, so beware as you'll be left with a puddle of dashi mirin on the table!

coldsobaThe cold soba and accompaniments

What else is on the menu?

Obviously you'll be wanting some sushi - not least because the person making it is Akinori Yasuda, who was Head Sushi Chef at Zuma for 6 years. And the tempura was very good too - we particularly liked the courgette flowers.

We ate during the soft launch period, so we weren't able to give the full menu a go. If we went back we'd like to try their wagyu tartar (£22), the rice bowl with eel (£38 for two) and maybe pimp up our soba with some duck.

Overall thoughts:

Yen is quite a startlingly beautiful restaurant and there's nothing really like it in this part of town, so it should prove a popular draw for any nearby lawyers wanting to wine and dine clients or anyone wanting to celebrate a good result at the nearby Royal Courts of Justice.

black codBlack cod marinated in Saikyo miso


More about Yen

Where is it? 190 Strand, 5 Arundel Street, London WC2R 3DX

How do I book? Book online or call 020 3915 6976 

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Twitter @YenRestaurant 


Cold soba photo courtesy of Louis Fernando