In Tokyo the 32nd Olympic games are well underway and unless you’re trying for a medal chances are you’re watching from home. Not to worry though, as London is full of ways to get a taste of Japan while travel restrictions remain in place. Here are some of the best places to eat and drink like you’re in Tokyo this summer.
Sakaya at Pantechnicon, Belgravia
Now up and running after lockdown delays, the ambitious Pantechnicon development offers Japanese and Nordic dining across multiple stories. Sakaya bar and bottle shop, occupies a little corner on the ground floor. The four-seater venue is inspired by Japanese Izakaya – traditional drinking spots that range in size from something like a pub to tiny counters folded into alleyways and subway stations. Though some offer simple refreshments like beer and dumplings to thirsty office workers the higher end caters to big spenders looking for top quality drinks. Sakaya, is definitely modelled on the latter.
The menu features a sake selection curated by Natsuki Kikuya – probably the country’s leading authority on the subject – and a short list of cocktails and highballs. In honour of the Tokyo Olympics the team has resurrected a cocktail that was created the last time the city hosted the games. The sensibly titled Tokyo 1964 was the winning entry in a competition held by Japanese drinks giant Suntory at the time. It’s an elegant little sour made with Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and Hibiki blended whisky. It’s bright, eye-opening, and not to be missed.
Japanese whisky fans will find lots to enjoy on the backbar which is stacked with discontinued and hard to find bottlings. Top of your hitlist when you visit should be an exclusive single malt from cult distillery Chichibu. It’s a complex dram that tastes of cashew butter and kiwi fruit, underpinned by soft smoke and stony minerality.