C&R Izakaya (Japanese) – Bayswater, London
Having opened in August 2016, the 60-cover restaurant has an extensive, fully Halal food menu that includes a large sushi section.
And with 67 items, there’s something for everyone, with dishes ranging from sushi and sashimi, which includes the restaurant’s Izakaya sets, temaki and maki rolls, and special jus that comprise of large bowls of rice served with miso soup.
The place itself is elegantly decked out with a healthy combination of both the modern and the traditional.
Darker tones of brown, including dark brown tables and chairs, combine well with the clever use of red LED lights to create a relaxed, moody ambience.
For those seeking after some privacy, the restaurant offers an intimate private dining area for six towards the front.
And while the alcohol bar is also located adjacent to this, there’s plenty of space further away down towards the sushi bar at the back, that proudly displays a variety of the chef’s Japanese-made sushi knives.
As for the chef himself, then the affable Andy, who’s originally from Malaysia, boasts 30 years of professional cooking experience, including Japanese restaurants across the capital.
As for the Tropical World, then this had been especially adapted from the cocktail menu, with the pineapple nicely offset by the flavour of the grenadine.
We were also presented with a small cup that was periodically filled with hot water during the course of the evening dine.
Typically filled with diced octopus pieces, and toppd with a herb dressing, a creamy sauce, and some crunchy shavings that only managed to bring some texture, these wheat balls were light, crispy and golden brown, with a touch of tanginess to them.
Delicious balls of warm, yummy goodness.
With a crispy exterior, not only was the soft chicken and vegetable filling lightly spiced, but the accompanying spicy sauce just as well done.
In fact, the heat of the sauce was such that it built up gradually without taking anything away from the taste of the Gyoza. Superb!
We appreciated the interplay between the mild tanginess of the orange sauce and the lightly spiced crispy-cum-flaky batter of the sweet, soft crab therein.
This intriguing Soft Shell Crab Salad was a good one without being anything spectacular.
The issue was with the cooking of the seabass, which was novelly presented on a crisp, green leaf that was precariously placed atop a bundle of twigs.
The centre of fish was so undercooked that we found it difficult trying to prize it open using a knife, let alone chopsticks.
The slices of pickle was also a smart addition in that it acted as a palate cleanser of sorts.
If we were to look part the cooking though, and based on its potential alone, we’d still recommend this be given a go, if only for that incredible marinade.
Yet, knowledge of this fact did not deter us from questioning the wagyu’s portion size in relation to its £50 prize tag.
And while it certainly had that soft and tender texture that bordered on the spongy, along with that delightfully familiar umami taste so distinct of wagyu, it also had a really good salty-cum-barbecue flavour too courtesy of some good charring.
Hence, although this turned out to be a really satisfying eat, given the slight sweet and sour edge delivered by the ponzu and wafu sauce, and the ultra soft and saturated eringji mushrooms, we simply couldn’t get past the price-to-portion differential.
The textures of this Maki, with the smoothness of the mellow avacado, the crispy-crunch of the fresh asparagus running through its core, and the sensation of the blood red popping fish roe, were quite something.
What’s more, the subtle sweetness of the soothing flavours therein, particularly the eel sauce, took control of the senses and had us going right till the last bite.
This eye-catchingly attractive Dragon Maki (courtesy of the skills of chef Andy) was both a visually stimulating and deliciously fascinating experience.
While the Cha Cha Roll was the weakest of the three had, this roll did have a pleasant chewiness to it that was really quite addictive.
Couple that with the way in which the sweetness of the plum sauce married with the familiar meaty taste of the duck, followed by the crunchiness of the cucumbers, and this was a tasty chew in its own right.
This would have revolved around subtlety had it not been for the wasabi, a tiny application of which did wonders in elevating the flavours of this dish to the next level.
In doing so, what you get are the soft and delicate flavour of the lightly salted wagyu lifted by the combination of the spicy miso and the hit of the wasabi. The asparagus is there again to lend that crunchy textural contrast.
On the whole, certainly worth a go if only to experience something other than the ordinary range.
There’s a reason why this Izakaya Seafood Ramen is designated a signature dish.
The depth of flavour of the broth in this large, vibrant-looking bowl was quite something. Infused with a rich fishy taste, with just enough heat from the chilli to make things interesting, the noodles had a good bite to them, the prawns were perfectly cooked, albeit inconveniently unshelled, and the few scallops decent.
But it was the combination of flavours and textures that made this chicken ramen such an enjoyable dish.
One of the highlights of the review, and a dish worth visiting Izakaya for!
Not as good as its seafood counterpart, but an equally large and appetising dish this.
It’s main component was the soft-textured chicken mince, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and mixed in with chewy spinach leaves, finely chopped spring onions, and thin slices of what’s known as black ear fungu that had a peculiar, though not unpleasant, spongy bite to them.
However, once again, the soup delivered on some serious flavour, with a rich broth made memorable by plenty of glistening sesame oil and strong spices that certainly aren’t for the faint hearted.