I was a latecomer to the wonders of Japanese food – chains like Wagamama had put me off. But recently, I can’t get enough of the intelligent, beautiful and precise cuisine.
Fortunately Bristol has some great Japanese restaurants. My favourite three? In order:
My favourite so far, and with the most inspiring menu out of my top three. Noa has an ex Nobu chef at the helm in the kitchen, and you can tell. The menu is presented as a flip chart, with tabs reading sushi, sashimi, traditional Japanese mains, rice and noodles, starters, desserts – the range is impressive.
Gyoza (mince meat dumplings), so fresh they are falling apart, served with hot and sour dipping sauce are a favourite, while snow crab and mango rolls and Noa house rolls double up as a refreshing starter. All served in first class Japanese style that showcases the beautiful food and makes eating here feel like a celebration.
Mains are a mix of traditional and innovative. The sirloin teriyaki is sweet and salty at the same time, while the soft beef melts in the mouth. The Katsu don is the best I have ever tasted – crisp Panko breadcrumbs encase tasty pork with egg and rice, all so simple but so delicious. The accompanying miso soup is umami in a bowl, while the delicate pickles freshen things up.
Not only that, but Noa is also good at puddings, something that other Japanese restaurants don’t manage, but when you have been enjoying yourself so much in Noa it is difficult to turn down the green tea crème brulee!
A cross between Yo Sushi! style conveyor belts and Noa style restaurant, Masa is my second favourite Japanese restaurant in Bristol. The menu is diverse, and they are famous for their Teppanyaki – where chefs cook fresh food in front of guests.
The miso soup here is my favourite of all, and the snow crab dumplings with spicy sauce are heavenly – served in their own steamer with cleverly placed cucumber slices to prevent sticking – these are delicious.
The sushi is good, and the beef teriyaki rivals Noa, but I have yet to witness the Teppanyaki, which I imagine would make for a fun evening!
Service is friendly, and prices are reasonable – definitely worth a visit.
69 Baldwin Street Bristol BS1 1QZ
Bottom of the list primarily due to slightly arrogant service, Obento does some mean sushi, and their bento boxes are good too.
I took a group of friends here for dinner and they loved the food – it is nice to go somewhere different – but unfortunately on that occasion the service really let us down. Constantly having to get up and ask for things is not my idea of a fun night out!
Having said that I have been back a few times since and am happy to report that on both occasions the service was quick and even friendly! They do take away too if you are worried about the service though!
Good prices but less cosy than both Noa and Masa, and definitely less welcoming, but worth a visit nonetheless. Lunch time is a good shout if you live in town – bentos are cheap and they always have half price sushi.
A favourite combo? Dynamite rolls, miso soup and edamame.