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Review: Bincho Yakitori Restaurant @ Exmouth Market

Published 10 December 2011

Bincho Yakitori has been getting rave reviews for its namesake dish, yakitori: skewered, marinated, and grilled meat and veg on sticks. Typically a street food in Japan, Bincho Yakitori has combined it with a relaxed restaurant format to bring an interesting casual dining venue.

I’m a big fan of restaurants specialising in single foods – too often, restaurants try to please everyone by offering everything, but then nothing tastes good. With single food restaurants, there’s no tolerance for mediocrity, and it makes a unique dining experience that will make your dining partner or date remember the meal.

Sadly, Bincho Yakitori probably won’t be one of those places I wish I was at instead when forced to seek nourishment at a Little Chef or Frankie & Bennys. The silver lining is that its not bad – all the skewers on the selection platter (£10 for 6) was faultlessly well cooked. However, they lacked any oomph. The Negima skewer had extremely tender and well marinated free range chicken, but the spring onion was too strong – perhaps smaller chunks would have been better. The Tebasaki chicken wings were just charred right – but wish they were bigger! The other meat skewer, Buta, was pork belly, which disappointed because it lacked that mouth-melting oomph.

The highlight was probably the Ebi prawn skewer – you could taste the fresh sweetness of the prawn, which was seasoned just right and grilled just till it was cooked and not overdone.

Shiitake Mushroom skewer and Asparagus skewer rounded out the selection platter, both cooked right so that they retained their succulent flavours.

Overall, nothing to fault the skewers – but at £10 for 6 skewers that probably isn’t enough to be filling for a meal, I expected a slightly higher standard and a wow factor. Especially from a restaurant that prides itself on yakitori as its signature dishes.

Another gripe is that despite its casual dining style, Bincho charges an “optional” 12.5% service charge – a growing trend that I have seen in London. Staff were friendly and prompt, but it could have been because I was the only customer there on a Saturday late afternoon – but you don’t expect to go to an Izakaya restaurant for yakitori and expect service worth a 12.5% service charge.

Bincho was good, but slightly pricey, and unlike places like Meat Liquor or Koya, wasn’t special enough to warrant it as an automatic choice next time I’m hankering for yakitori.

Bincho Yakitori has two branches in Exmouth Market (Clerkenwell) and Old Compton Street (Soho). Find the full skewer menu on the Bincho Yakitori website.