Test Drives

chickenChicken thigh and spring onion yakitori

So this is the second Jidori?

Yes, it's the second following their successful original restaurant in Dalston, one which we liked rather a lot

And what kind of food can we expect?

Jidori is best known for its yakitori - all manner of meat and veg on sticks, done very, very well. But it's much more than that as you'll find the menu features a number of dishes with Japanese influences and beyond. It's mainly small plates, but this new Covent Garden version adds some bigger dishes to the mix too. 

sweetpotatoCoal-grilled sweet potato, housemade kewpie and egg salad

Where is it?

it's all part of the ongoing revitalisation of Covent Garden's dining scene. The new Jidori appears on Catherine Street, the same street that holds Opera Tavern and Augustus Harris. It's a short walk five-minute walk from Covent Garden station

And how has the layout changed from the original?

Quite significantly as it's now a three-level affair plus a basement area too (more of that in a minute). And on top of that, there's a small bar hidden away at the back of the ground floor - ideal if you're waiting for a table, but you can book online, so there's no need to queue/wait here.

Looking at all the options, we think the front room on the first floor is the best area to dine in. 

mushroomsKinoko yakitori - shimeji and shiitake mushrooms

And in the basement?

It was yet to be completed on our visit (although it may well be by the time you read this) but the basement will contain the karaoke room. That will take about 10 people and you can order away from the menu while you belt out Rhianna to your heart's content.

Onto the menu - how much has changed from the original?

You'll find that a lot of the top dishes from the original menu have made an appearance in Covent Garden. So if you fancy a katsu scotch egg (and you really should, it's wonderful) or the Koji fried chicken, all your favourites are here. 

The yakitori all come in pairs and you should definitely have as many as you can, While we did have some of our old favourites, we also tried as many of the new dishes as we could. Here's what we went for:

  • Salmon sashimi with citrus and white soy (£8) - Taking the place of the tataki from the original menu, salmon with a bit of bite
  • Quail eggs and housemade kewpie, sansho pepper and charcoal salt (£6) - for this you'll have to work a little, peeling the eggs before dipping them in the excellent housemade kewpie (which we're adding to our list of "things we wish restaurants sold to take away"). They do need a bit of dexterity but take your time peeling these and you're rewarded with soft-boiled quail eggs that you'll want covered in kewpie (aka Japanese mayo - but with a little less MSG here). 
  • Coal-grilled sweet potato, housemade kewpie and egg salad (£5) - we gave ourselves extra points for being able to eat this dish with chopsticks, and it remains our favourite new dish of the night. Wonderfully simple, perfectly cooked sweet potato and more of that great kewpie. 
  • Kinoko yakitori - shimeji and shiitake mushrooms (£4) - you'll want the chicken yakitori for sure (the thigh and spring onion was a real winner) but also make time for the veg version. 
  • Duck leg, braised daikon, egg yolk (£16) - one of the larger dishes and served in a deeply rich sauce that you'll need to pair with some rice. The duck falls off the bone, but it's the braised daikon that really impresses here, having soaked up much of the sauce during braising. It's very good. 

duck2Duck leg, braised daikon, egg yolk

And save room for dessert?

Of course. There's a new dish on the menu which you should have if you're after something lighter - that's Purin gyunyu (pannacotta-ish in texture) with sake lees granita (£6).

But really it's the other dessert that you'll be fighting over - the Ginger ice cream, miso caramel, sweet potato crisps and black sesame praline (£5). We simply adore this dessert and it was a runner-up for our best dessert of 2016. You'll never have thought that crispy shards of sweet potato would work so well in a dessert, but it is truly a dish to marvel at. Do not leave without ordering this.

Are there any other options on the menu?

If you're after a "give me the best of everything" approach, head straight for the chef's omakase - a platter of yakitori and sides at £18 a head.

potatodessertGinger ice cream, miso caramel, sweet potato crisps and black sesame praline. SO GOOD.

What about drinks?

There's a short cocktail list (they do a mean line in frozen (£6.50) and non-frozen (£7) margaritas, a good selection of beers (inc Kernel, our personal fave), sake, Japenese whisky and a small selection of natural wines (around £21 a bottle). 

Overall thoughts?

We were instant fans of the original Jidori and remain so with their second Covent Garden outpost. Excellent yakitori mixed with inventive small plates and a divine dessert make this another winner. Now we must book that karaoke room....

Hot Dinners were invited to Jidori, prices are correct at the time of writing. 

 

More about Jidori Covent Garden

Where is it? 15 Catherine Street, London WC2B 5JZ

How to book: Book online

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

 

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