Grilled Eel Nigiri & Matcha Mochi: Our Night At A South London Japanese Kitchen

Published . By Kay Field.

I should say this now: I'm not particularly well-versed in the art of sushi. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the Japanese delicacy, but my experience of nori, sashimi et al are limited to dashes into itsu, lunches at YO! and the odd delivery. Which is why when KIBOU popped up on my radar, I couldn't resist trying my hand at the real stuff. And *spoiler* it did not disappoint.

Located at the end of Clapham's Northcote Road, this Japanese kitchen and bar is a real treat on the eyes, both inside and out. A decorative blossom tree adorns the exterior while in the dining room you'll find low-hanging lights, rich-hued furniture and Asian-inspired wall art. There are streetside tables, however as the weather was not on our side, we grabbed a plush banquette in the restaurant instead.

KIBOU Japanese kitchen and restaurant Clapham

Sashimi over to this West London restaurant for an East Asian feast.

The food menu is extensive, featuring a crowd-pleasing array of gyoza, poke bowls and katsu curries on one side, and all things sushi on the other. There's also a vast and varying selection of drinks, including a range of Japanese highballs which caught my attention, opting for a refreshing whisky, lychee, lime and soda shiori (£12.50). We kickstarted the evenings' proceedings with an oh so fluffy vegan bao bun, stuffed with shiitake mushroom tempura (£6.50) and tonkatsu sauce - a testament to plant-based cooking - and a chicken kara-age (£8.50), a finger-licking delight of ginger, soy and garlic, served with Sriracha mayo. 

Onto the main, sushi-filled affair. Dishes here are expertly hand-crafted fresh to order, using seafood sourced from around the UK. Classics such as nigiri are given a KIBOU upgrade, topped with everything from grilled red pepper and beef tataki to an unexpectedly delicious unagi (£5.50), AKA grilled teriyaki eel. California rolls? Sure, they've got them, but you'd be better off getting their signature salmon lantern roll (£16.50). Combined with avocado, soft shell crab tempura and mango, this eight-piece beauty proved to be one of our favourites of the night.

KIBOU sushi

Some of the many bites up for grabs...

For those of you feeling adventurous, try your hand at a gunkan platter (£16.50) that'll have you tucking into a selection of oval maki bites laden with the likes of tobiko (flying fish roe), ikura (bright orange salmon caviar) and spicy tuna that really packs a punch. If you've got room left for dessert, check out the fittingly named Japanese garden (£6.50). A dreamy, but not too sweet, layered concoction of chocolate ganache, sesame mouse and chocolate 'soil' that comes decorated with small flowers. For something a little lighter, mochi balls (£6.50) are the perfect palate cleanser.

The DesignMyNight Digest

With beautiful decor, friendly waiters and top-notch food and drinks, KIBOU gets a double thumbs up from me. Sushi can often be a pricy affair, but the offerings here prove you can get great quality without paying through the nose for it - just be wary not to get too slap-happy when ordering. The kitchen also cooks up a whole range of wallet-friendly eats, such as thick ramen from £13 and Japanese salads for £12.

Book your table at KIBOU here.