Unless you’re swimming in cash or have a friend who is, chances are Shoreditch House just isn’t on your radar for dinner. So when the opportunity to check out the new Japanese restaurant occupying the iconic rooftop arose? I took it.
While it may be located just opposite Boxpark, the members’ club feels much cooler. There’s no sign, and the place seems somewhat secretive… if you know? You know. We got the elevator up to the 6th floor, breezed past the hipster crowd and much-photographed pool, and slipped into the low-lit Pen Yen. After proving popular at Oxfordshire’s Soho Farmhouse the restaurant has now made its way to East London. And on a Friday night when we visited, every table was booked.
With views of the London skyline on one side and an huge open-fire bar on the other, we settled in for a couple of signature picantes – think a levelled up margarita that really hits the back of your throat – before perusing the menu. Specialising in robata-flamed dishes, the menu is split into smalls, fried, raw, salads, sushi and dishes from the wood oven. We went for a little bit of everything – first up, seared tuna tataki (£15) which was cut thick, served on a bed of shredded daikon, and complemented by an apple wafu dressing and red shiso.
The Japanese fried chicken was recommended, but since I was dining with a pescetarian pal, we stuck to seafood. From the maki section, soft shell crab (£18) was elevated by a punchy wasabi mayo, while a strong salmon maki (£9) was inhaled within minutes. To top it off? An espresso martini for him, and a gin, yuzu and sparkling sake-tipped Arisake 38 for me.
Turning to the robata next, we were impressed with chunky squares of tofu steak (£10) that had been plated up like dominoes; crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and slathered with a miso and splash of soy. Drenched in a spicy miso butter, robata corn (£9) was just as surprising. Zesty, messy, and worth the face-full of sauce.
Ending on a sweet note, the dessert menu looks to Japan, with East Asian influences and whiskies to pair. I went for the matcha gateaux (£8) which was delicious, although I had major FOMO over my dinner date’s yuzu cheesecake (£8) and ended up slipping a few bites. Finished with a frothy, balanced whisky sour, it was the perfect end to a delicious meal... before swinging by the ping pong room below.
The DesignMyNight Digest
When I think robata, I often think of meat - but Pen Yen's plant-based dishes somehow stole the show, and every single drink hit the spot. Did I love my first Shoreditch House encounter? Absolutely. Am I now considering forking out for a membership? Just might be. Will you catch me in the pool this summer? I bloody hope so.
💰 The damage: around £150 with food and drinks for two.
📍 The location: Shoreditch House, Ebor Street, London E1 6AW.
👌 Perfect for: Japanese food at London's most elusive rooftop.
⭐ Need to know: Shoreditch House is members' only so you'll need to have a membership or go with someone who has one to dine here.
There's more where that came from; read our guides to stunning Japanese restaurants and the best rooftops in Shoreditch.