At first glance, Jidori is an unassuming candidate for a great dinner.
Decidedly minimalist in design, with bare tables and walls, this Covent Garden restaurant specialising in Japanese yakitori is the second in the Jidori family.
The original Dalston venue opened its doors in 2015 to much acclaim, followed by a second on Catherine Street earlier this year.
Both offer menus of small plates and skewers that, despite their size, showcase big, bold flavours.
We were welcomed by a friendly waitress who set the tone for attentive but not overbearing service throughout the meal. A short but attractively-priced cocktail menu offers classics with a Japanese twist.
We chose an Umeshu fizz consisting of Japanese plum wine, Aperol, ume bitters and soda, and a Tomu margarita with tequila, yuzu juice and agave.
While the Umeshu fizz is much like a classic Aperol spritz, the margarita offered intriguing smoky notes and punchy citrus flavours.
The name Jidori comes from a special breed of free-range Japanese chickens renowned for their flavour.
It’s unsurprising, then, that the chicken dishes are where the kitchen really shines: ‘Negima’ skewers of succulent chicken thighs with charred spring onion were a highlight, while the Koji fried chicken maintained a well-crafted balance of crisp coating with tender meat.
The katsu scotch egg also proved a hit – a fusion wildcard that quickly silenced my inner sceptic.
Keen to sample dishes from the restaurant’s extensive vegetarian and vegan offering, we tried the tempura broccoli and miso aubergine – the former proved light but bland, however, the dainty skewers of aubergine slick with sticky miso glaze were a triumph.
Jidori Covent Garden venue also houses a private-hire karaoke bar in the basement, where guests can enjoy two-and-a-half hours of music with a tasting menu for £40.
Combining dining with entertainment tends to lead to compromise, more often than not to the detriment of the food. I can’t speak for the karaoke – I’ll leave that to the revellers downstairs – but Jidori’s food is certainly worth battling the Covent Garden crowds for.
Jidori Covent Garden is located at 5 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JZ Click here for further details.
By Georgina MacDougall
The Bon Vivant Journal
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