What: A relaxed and affordable Japanese restaurant from the team behind ramen group Kanada-Ya. Taking its title from the Japanese word for a wooden townhouse, Machiya sits two doors down from Kanada-Ya’s Piccadilly site on Panton Street, and feels a blessed world away from the likes of the nearby tourist trap restaurants surrounding Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.
Who: From Tony Lam and Aaron Burgess-Smith, the duo who brought Kanada-Ya to London in 2014. They hope to roll out the concept across the capital should it be a success.
The vibe: Cute, café-style dining across 23 covers, with unmistakably Japanese touches. Think blonde wooden tables, monochrome branding and sheet glass, plus white spherical lampshades hung at differing lengths swaying gently in the breeze. Service is informal but friendly. Downstairs is a surprise; a door suggesting nothing but the toilets doubles as the entrance to a cosy bar with velvet-covered loveseats.
The menu: Split into Izakaya (bar snacks), Washoku (traditional Japanese) and Yoshoku (Western style), the short and eclectic menu offers large plates designed for sharing, and – according to Lam, includes dishes that ‘everyone in Japan will eat every week’.
Highlights include a platter of pillowy wagyu beef in a panko crumb which arrives raw with its own hot grill (Japanese ‘shichirin’ style) complete with wagyu beef fat to melt and cook with at the table (for just £19). Breaded pork with tonkatsu sauce and raw egg yolk; sticky-sweet smoked unajyu (lacquered eel) on a bed of rice also stand out, while the beef bowl with slow-cooked egg is also popular. Cocktails are original and playful, including the pink, creamy Pokémon-inspired Jigglypuff or the woody-citrus Yuzu-Kosho Sour.
And another thing: Save yourself room for dessert. As the ancient London restaurant law states (well, probably) ‘Thou shalt not open thy restaurant without at least one Instagrammable dish’ , and Machiya’s bright green line up of matcha-based sweets - including soft serve ice cream, genmaicha mille crepe cake and matcha fondant - do not disappoint.