Living in London ain’t easy. Whether it’s because you were affected by the recent national biscuit shortage, or your night out was ruined by some tosspots rioting down the road while you were just trying to finish your pint, life in the capital has been trying of late. Sometimes you need something to take the edge off, and Machiya will do the trick.
Machiya is a casual restaurant in Piccadilly from the people behind ramen overlord Kanada-Ya, and this time they’ve focused on Japanese comfort food. If you’re not familiar with the more homely style of Japanese cuisine, expect dishes like deep-fried pork tonkatsu and beef curry that go nicely with a glass of Kirin. Not everything on the menu is a hit, but Machiya is worth a visit for their rice dishes alone - the toppings (like lightly cooked beef and a soft-boiled egg) are fresh and good, and they’re the perfect excuse to shovel spoonfuls of warm carbs into your face. There are cocktails and izakaya-style snacks too, and if you want to keep on drinking, there’s even a hidden sake bar in the basement.
While Kanada-Ya is a one-dish overachiever, it helps to think of its younger sibling as a people-pleaser that does a few things well, even if no single dish will blow you away. Machiya’s already a hit with Asian students and young professionals, who pop in for a cheap solo lunch, or to catch up with friends over matcha cake and tea. In other words, it's easy.
These are Japanese-style chicken meatballs on a skewer. They’re a nice little snack if you rock up for a drink and you can’t decide whether you want to commit to a full-blown dinner.
Seven pounds for a big plate of beef curry and rice, and cheaper if you go veggie. The texture of the sauce is smooth and without the gloopiness of inferior versions - we like it. If we came here for just one dish, we’d get this.
The regular pork tonkatsu is the way to go - it’s crunchy, tender, and half the price of the expensive wagyu beef version that you have to grill yourself. It’s also affordable enough to get with a little rice and some soup as a complete meal.
The emotional equivalent of eating this is faceplanting into a cuddly grandma’s bosoms. The combo of warm rice, beef, and a runny egg is excellent.
This is objectively not great. You get a lot of soba for your money, but it comes as a claggy pile of overcooked buckwheat with some dipping sauce. Don’t order.
You can skip these too - they’re dry and nowhere near the platonic ideal of a fresh-off-the-grill tenderness of a good yakitori.
Great for social media, but essentially tastes like fruit flavour jelly. The only thing preventing us rolling our eyes is that it’s ridiculously cheap.
If you like cake and matcha-flavoured things, get this. It’s great for a pick-me-up, especially since the restaurant stays open all afternoon.
The soft serve at Shackfuyu gets all the love, but the version here (sans French toast) is actually better.