Yumi Izakaya, a new Japanese restaurant and bar, has launched in London’s West End. Situated within The Piccadilly West End Hotel, the restaurant has its own entrance at 67 Shaftesbury Avenue. Inspired by Japan’s izakayas, roughly translated as a pub or place designed for informal eating and drinking, Yumi Izakaya specialises in Japanese snacks and drinking food.
Although new to London, Yumi Izakaya has its roots in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Londoner Caspar von Hofmannsthal relocated to the Cambodian capital in 2009 having previously managed London restaurants such as Quo Vadis, Smiths of Smithfield and Rotorino. Drawing on his experience and entrepreneurial spirit, Caspar launched Yumi Izakaya, bringing his idea to life in a converted garage.
The restaurant became very popular, particularly with the city’s ex-pat community, and attracted international attention. In 2014, Caspar made the decision to return to London, closing the doors in Phnom Penh with the intention to bring Yumi Izakaya home.
Now Caspar has partnered with Tom and Ed Martin of ETM Group to reincarnate Yumi Izakaya in London as a 38-cover casual dining restaurant, open seven days, from lunch until late. The menu has been created by Caspar and will change regularly according to seasonality.
The food menu opens with a selection of small plates, from £4, such as okonomiyaki Osaka style, daikon wrapped pork gyozas and chilli fried cauliflower. From an open robata grill comes a choice of skewers, at £2.25 each. Various cuts and parts of the chicken – free range herb fed chickens from Philmoor Grange Farm, Yorkshire - are on offer, including wings (with sea salt and Tongarashi), heart (with spring onion and ginger), liver (with tare sticky soy glaze and shichimi) and oysters (with salt and yuzu). Also available from the grill are bacon wrapped vegetable skewers such as asparagus and Shimeji mushroom. Larger plates available include caramelised pork belly with a tempura’ed egg and smoked duck and Udon soup, each priced at £15. Sides include, Japanese rice, seaweed salad and aubergine glazed in sake, mirin and soy, from £2.50.
Three draft beers are available, the Yumi dry house brew (brewed by Charles Wells) sits alongside Kirin Ichiban and IPA OK from Ealing’s Long Arm Brewing Co. Bottles include Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale (Japan), Hitachino Saison Du (Japan), plus Capel Road Cider by the can. Sake features heavily on the drinks list, with eight to choose from at varying price points, available by 100ml or the bottle. One sake of note is a sparkling sake; Fukuju Awasaki Sparkling, priced £19.50 for 330ml. Wines start from £3.50 per glass or £20 a bottle. A choice of three Asian inspired cocktails also feature, changing daily, priced at £8.