Bincho Yakitori models itself on the Izakaya idea; an informal Japanese drinking and eating joint, where the food is ordered throughout the evening, and served when ready (as opposed to formal courses) in a similar style to Spanish tapas.
The establishment opened its doors back in 2015, and since then has been receiving rave reviews from food bloggers, tripadvisor contributors, local restaurant critics, and some of our friends. Given its popularity we decided to go, to find out what we were missing out on.
Visited: November 2016
- The relaxed, laid back atmosphere
- Being able to eat at the counter, watching the chefs at the grill
- The good value of some dishes
- The selection of sake and craft beer
- Drinks prices (appreciate that importing beer and sake from Japan is going to add cost)
- Indifferent service
- Left still feeling a bit hungry!
Having reserved a table in advance (well worth doing, given its popularity) we arrived and were quickly shown to our table. First impressions were that the place was dark, a bit shabby, with a casual and trendy style. Much of the wall space had been painted with chalk board paint on which specials, drink options, and other details were sketched. The tables are small and placed close together, giving the dining space a cramped feel.
The menu is organised into several sections including small dishes, salads, yakitori, grill, fried, and rice – plus specials. Their descriptions are short and simple (E.g. chicken thigh, sweetcorn, tomato and bacon, squid), which leads you to believe that the dishes might be more complex and interesting, given the trend for restaurants using minimalist dish descriptions.
We ordered a pair of beers, which arrived promptly and contemplated what to eat. Eventually we decided upon aubergine and miso, Korean chicken wings, kimchi rice, chicken thigh and pork belly yakitori, and the special of fried prawns with seaweed mayonnaise.
The food arrived when ready from the kitchen (some individually, then three at once, then another few individually). It seems that cutlery or plates are deemed superfluous, and while I don’t mind eating with my fingers, it did make sharing some of the dishes a little tricky.
As it transpired, the dishes were as simple as they were described. You could taste that the yakitori had been cooked over charcoal, and they also had a slight teriyaki flavour – pleasant enough, but not particularly impressive. The fried prawns were fine, however I would have liked a stronger seaweed flavour in the mayonnaise. The kimchi rice had very little kimchi in it, and the Korean chicken wings were a disappointment in lacking a spicy punch. The star dish for me was the aubergine with miso. They had been slowly grilled on charcoal so that they were well-softened. The combination of the sweet flesh, smokey skin, salty miso, and nutty sesame was excellent; they were reminiscent of a good tahini-rich baba ganoush.
Having finished all the dishes, we thought about ordering more as our appetites hadn’t been completely fulfilled. However, given we weren’t that impressed with what we had eaten already, it didn’t seem worthwhile as the service was slow and we had already been there 2 hours. Instead we resigned, and thought about a Grubbs burger on the walk home.
Maybe we ordered badly (some recommendations from the staff would have been welcome), or maybe I “just don’t get it”? Honestly, I wasn’t overwhelmed by Bincho Yakitori, but perhaps it was never going to live up to the hype.
Overall Verdict: 6.5/10
Cost of food: Dishes vary in price from £3 to £7.50. Expect to pay £5+ a beer.
63 Preston Street
Tel: 01273 779021