• itadaki zen japanese organic vegan restaurant in london

    March 8th, 2011quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    how would you like to spend a rainy english evening with a warm bottle of sake and a massive spread of vegetables, noodles, and sushi? thankfully london has its very own entirely vegan, entirely organic, and entirely delicious japanese restaurant called itadaki zen, where you can do just that.

    we checked out itadaki zen for dinner one evening and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, despite the fact that we left the restaurant much poorer than when we arrived.

    we started things off with a large bottle (hey, we were on vacation!) of traditional sake to share.

    traditional japanese sake, shizengo. ₤29

    we ordered the cheapest bottle in the house, and it still came in at ₤29 (which is around $47 US). when dining in london, i guess you just have to resign yourself to the fact that everything is going to be ridiculously expensive. drinking a big bottle of sake like this will make the whole process easier, i promise.

    the food menu at itadaki zen is a little bit hard to navigate. the dinner options are sectioned off into different menus including: dinner sets, dinner courses, healing courses, special selections, side dishes, special dishes, a sushi menu, and a season menu. add to all this the fact that a lot of the ingredients are foreign, and choosing a meal can be quite a challenge. we spent about ten minutes poring over the different menus and went with two things that sounded good, the “gokoku-han tanno set” and the “itadaki course 2”. the course was considerably more expensive than the set, and came with a lot more food, so we just decided to share everything on the table.

    let’s start off with the “gokoku-han tanno set” (part of which is pictured above). this meal clocked in at ₤13.80 (around $22) and came with the following menu description: “This diet makes good use of many kinds of grain, including rice, barley, millet, wild black rice, mochigome rice and Adzuki beans.” the set came with a great selection of healthy eats including 3 seasonal vegetables, bean sprouts, large nori seaweed sheets, rice, seaweed salad, yu-tofu, ryokusaimaki, and miso soup.

    as you can see in the picture at the top of the post, the whole thing came out in a super cute bento box with each dish neatly packed into its own little section. in the bottom right are the bean sprouts, the bottom left is the seaweed salad, the top left is vegetable mix, and the top right is my favorite: the ryokusaimaki.

    ryokusaimaki: fresh roll made of a lightly boiled spring green sheet with okara and vegetable filling

    the set also came with a great blend of rice and beans, along with nori for sushi making…

    as well as a portion of yu-tofu…

    yu-tofu: silky tofu coated in homemade sauce

    the tofu was fantastic—doused with flavorful sauce and garnished with herbs and green onions. there was also a bowl of miso soup included in the set, but i must have forgotten to photograph it. i blame the sake.

    next up was the “itadaki course 2”, also described on the menu as “zara udon set”. this single meal set us back ₤21 ($33!) and came with: senmoku, vegetables with delicate dressing, 7 pieces of sushi, harumaki (deep-fried spring rolls, or grilled on request), seaweed salad, kamage-udon, and pudding dessert. it arrived in several stages, starting with this box:

    from left to right: seaweed salad, senmoku, vegetables with delicate dressing

    over in the left compartment of the box is the seaweed salad, a refreshing mix of ocean greens and cucumber. in the middle of the box is the senmoku, a crunchy jelly made from acorn starch and covered in sauce—quite interesting. over on the right are the “vegetables with delicate dressing”—basically green beans with a few shredded carrots. everything in this box was decent, but nothing i’m dying to order again.

    and now for phase two of the dinner course, the sushi!

    7 pieces of sushi including oriental herbs, seaweed, and wild plants

    the sushi was probably my favorite part of the course—each piece was excellent. itadaki zen made the little rolls out mostly out of vegetables i couldn’t pronounce and had never heard of before, but i loved every bite. it’s so refreshing to eat vegan sushi that’s well prepared and focused around seaweed and vegetables, rather than fake meat.

    udon noodles with grilled spring rolls

    the next part of the course was a bento box containing udon noodles, sauce, and harumaki spring rolls (we ordered them grilled, rather than fried). the rolls were fantastic–i could have just eaten these for dinner and been perfectly content. the udon noodles were great as well, but they were SO FREAKING DIFFICULT TO EAT. i dunno if it’s the fact that i had drank half a bottle of sake, or that i suck at using chop sticks, but i basically gave up trying to eat this stuff. grrrrr.

    the dinner course ended with a small portion of dessert pudding, which was absolutely lovely. the strange concoction was made of soymilk and agar, all finished off with a chocolate-flavor topping. it was so delicious, i almost completely forgot about horrible udon incident.

    inside, itadaki zen is bright and cozy with somewhat limited seating. we were lucky enough to snag the one table in the front of the restaurant by the window…which was great because it was somewhat private, even though it kept getting cold when customers would enter and leave the door open. the interior is nice and all, but it doesn’t really have that fancy restaurant feel that i expect to find when i’m dropping a hundred bucks on a meal.

    that being said, i’m hoping to return to itadaki zen next time i’m in london. overall, the food was tasty, interesting, and very well-prepared. in the future, i’ll probably stick with a la carte items rather than the super expensive dinner course. ah, who i am i kidding? you guys know i’m just gonna get an entire tray full of spring rolls.

    itadaki zen
    139 King’s cross Road London
    WC1X 9BJ
    Tel: 02072783573
    Opening Hours
    Mon, Tue, Thurs, Fri
    12:00 – 15:00
    17:00 – 22:00
    17:00 – 22:00
    18:00 – 22:30

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9 responses to “itadaki zen japanese organic vegan restaurant in london” RSS icon

  • OMG, those PRICES!!!!!!!!!! YUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ….but FRITZ! it’s GLUTEN-FREE!

  • LOL, QG, good to know it has ONE redeeming feature! : )

  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    Appears to be delicious and the decor looks cool and simple too.

  • What’s the deal with the cafe on the same premises? They serve all sorts of nasty animal products. Do they share the same kitchen? I walked past during the day and it didn’t appear to be the Japanese restaurant – it was a greasy spoon… I was a bit confused.

  • wait, is there another cafe on the premises?

  • looks amazing! hell of a lot cheaper than going to japan for equally an authentic experience!

  • Great post but London is such a dreary, ugly place. I don’t know why anyone would want to pay the gazillions of pounds one must pay to live in that dump. Also, would it kill you to use proper punctuation?

  • haha, funny you say that—london is my favorite city that i’ve visited. oh well! more pubs and curry for me.

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