I love Japanese food and am in a constant search for more Japanese places to go in London. But sadly Engawa disappointed and won’t enter my Japanese hall of fame that includes UMU and Ikeda. I picked Engawa for a business lunch as I had heard their bento boxes were fantastic . UMU has fantastic lunch sets at more reasonable prices than their dinner options and Ikeda is simple and delicious, perfectly executed food, but not as much of a business lunch type place.
Engawa is located across from the Ham Yard Hotel, in a charming courtyard and is tiny and somewhat cute, in a sparse sort of way. My lunch companion had advised them of her dairy and gluten intolerances (also no red meat) and they were really thrown off by it and told her they weren’t sure they could accommodate it. Really? How hard can it be to serve rice and fish and veggies and GF soy sauce? Oh well, they did end up making a GF bento for her and I went for the traditional, which also included some beef.
What we ate:
Lunch set bento box (£40 for 11 assorted selection): When our boxes arrived I wished I had order the GF as her bento was way more appealing, with several sashimi selections while mine had a few deep fried items like chicken tempura (cold and uninteresting) and two beef dishes that ended up being heavy, greasy and borderline inedible. The rolls were also too salty and everything that was fried wasn’t prepared in the usual Japanese magic way of frying that makes food crispy but not greasy. I also got a potato salad as one selection and the little container with ginger and some wasabi counted as a box….?
Sushi: the rice was too dense
Sashimi: I ordered some as my box had 4 compartments of sushi and no sashimi (supposedly the 14 set box has sashimi) and the yellowtail was divine. Charlotte had gotten some otoro and when I asked for some, they said they didn’t have it as they had done specially for her.
Service was very weak – as an example the waiter kept insisting that chutoro was fattier than otoro while I kept insisting it was the opposite, he finally spoke to the chef who said I was correct. Their only dessert is a cheesecake and until we prompted them for info, they didn’t even mention it or offer desserts or coffee and I constantly had to ask them to refill my tea despite being one of only two tables that had people.
In sum: I have no desire to return and would just go to UMU and Ikeda again and again instead.
2 Ham Yard, London W1D 7DT
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