Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sounds like

It was a free Friday night. A colleague suggested an eatery in Soho for us to try out. After much time to-ing and fro-ing on the email all day – where? Why? What’s to eat? Really? What time? Who else? Should we save some money by going home to leftovers? ha ha at that last one - finally I agreed.

We met at windswept Piccadilly Circus, where we always do, between always-on-sale-Lilywhites and the statue with the steps of tourists. We elbowed our way through the teeming crowds and into the beating heart of Soho. It’s been a while since we did this. The buzz emanating from large crowds hopped up on alcohol and out to enjoy an evening of camaraderie is divine. It makes your heart beat a little quicker as you walk in the middle of the street, holding hands so you don’t get separated or lost, dodging only the odd cycle rickshaws and pedestrians trying to find their ideal evening.

The suggested café was packed to the gills. In fact beyond the gills with tables and people practically sitting on each others laps on the very cramped pavement side seating. In a wonderful case of reverse bias it was a Gay & Lesbian night only and since we are neither we had to leave. There was no chance of finding anything remotely comfortable or edible in the jam-packedness in any case. It looked prettier, shinier and quieter on the internet, as most pictures tend to do. I had clearly lost my youngness eager-to-use-elbows on the overheated tube. So vowing to return another time we continued down the street looking for somewhere slightly less full to rest our feet and fill our tummies.

We decided on Bincho (not the most promising of names – yes we too kept thinking of and giggling aloud at THAT other word it sounds suspiciously like) which merely stated Yakitori under its name, on a random whim. Anything Japanese is appealing to this foodster and as he always always indulges me (even when he doesn’t have the deep love of all food oriental that I do) V and I went in. We got a table at the wooden grill counter behind which skewers of meat, fish and vegetables were gently sizzling. The menu suggested that we order skewers of different kinds, seasoned and grilled and then slathered with generic yakitori sauce – called Yakitori for anything to do with chicken parts and Kushiyaki for any skewered stuff besides. We ordered a wide selection – sea bream, salmon, tuna, squid, tiger prawns, shitake mushrooms and spring onion. We skipped the rice in favour of multiple portions of skewered foods. The gym gods would be so proud.

And as we ate that rare meal with just each other (read: no TV) for company we talked - about life, work and our plans for the next few months, holidays we intend to take, people we need to meet, activities that will keep us busy and happy till at least Christmas. At which point we may have to go out for dinner again (just kidding!). It was rare to not be watching sports while chucking food down our throats at top speed – an every week day occurrence unless we were eating with company. Bincho’s service was attentive if a beat slow – the young Japanese ladies grasp on Endlish made for some awkward moments of repeating.things.slowly. The décor was calm and sparse, with great big Japanese characters adoring the light walls and empty giant Japanese beer bottles lining a few focal point shelves and lots of wood furniture and . It was a lovely evening, lingering and watching the sun set late on a London people’s landscape, eating perfectly cooked fresh ingredients with this delightful tang of sweet and salty yakitori sauce, each served on different individual Japanese ceramic plates. I don’t know if I’d go back in a hurry seeing as it was about £25 per head and there are hundreds of places in Soho and the wider London area for us to try out. But it was a good evening and I shouldn’t knock it.

After all, at Bincho we had found ours. The ideal evening that is.

Bincho: 16 Old Compton Street, London W10 4TL. Tel: 0207 207 9111


  1. Anonymous2:19 AM

    Glad to see you back in action.

  2. No TV at Binchos?? :O Sacrelige!!

    A meal is always complete with some football I tell you.