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Forget your go-to pizza joint and awaken your tastebuds at Tokyo Pizza instead, where Japanese cuisine meets Italian classics, says Abigail Spooner
Where is it?
A short stroll from picturesque Little Venice in London, Tokyo Pizza is just along from Warwick Avenue station. A welcome new local for those in the north-west of the city like myself, or a good spot for those seeking an alternative to the bustling streets of Soho.
What’s all the fuss about?
Successfully finding a gap in the capital’s crowded restaurant market, this innovative concept puts an Asian spin on Italian puffy-crust pizzas. While these are the restaurant’s signature dishes, they also serve donburi rice bowls and a tempting selection of small bites, including a garlic bread made with mochi and glazed in spicy mayo.
What’s the place like?
The space is as unique and carefully thought out as the food. Located underground with darkly painted walls, dim lighting and separate seating areas, it feels intimate, yet relaxed. As you enter, there is a stylish counter-top bar and impressive drinks display straight ahead with industrial-style furniture and slick lines throughout.
What did we eat and drink?
In the spirit of the evening, we are keen to kick things off with a couple of sake (Japanese rice wine) cocktails. Both drinks we choose contain plum sake, adding a lovely fruity note to their Shinjuku spritz with gin and Aperol, and the sophisticated ‘samurai old fashioned’ with whisky and almond syrup. We are spoilt for choice on the food front but begin with a couple of the snacks to accompany our cocktails, opting for the renkon chips and age ika.
The chips are my first taste of lotus, a root vegetable with a distinctive appearance and a slightly sweet, earthy flavour similar to parsnips. Safe to say, once deep fried and dunked into an okonomiyaki mayo, they are very moreish indeed. Age ika is crispy fried squid and arrives lightly battered, rather than greasy, with a tangy yuzu mayo on the side. For the main event, the intriguing flavour combinations are an exciting prospect to two foodies.
The ever-popular salami pizza is elevated with a shichimi tomato sauce and the mushroom pizza comes topped with a sweet soy truffle glaze. On this occasion, it is the wagyu nduja and robusuta pizzas that take our fancy. The first has a creamy sweetcorn base that contrasts with slices of deliciously spicy wagyu beef nduja, while the second is equally luxurious with chunks of lobster tail. A drizzle of sharp yuzu cream, sweet pickled radishes and peashoots add a fresh touch to the latter.
The pizza dough itself is excellent and is made from their original blended flour, resulting in light and fluffy crusts with just the right amount of charring. We are sadly defeated by the pizza to squeeze in something sweet, but I vow to go back for the matcha kukki: a hot matcha and white chocolate cookie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or perhaps the Basque burnt cheesecake… we’ll see.
You’ll pay a bit more than your local Friday night takeaway, but it’s well worth it for the unique experience, attentive staff and fusion pizza toppings that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in London.
Those perfectly puffy crusts.