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“Decent food but just another Japanese restaurant.” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Toku Restaurant

Toku Restaurant
16 Regent Street, London SW1Y 4PT, England (St. James's)
020 3405 1222
Website
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Ranked #8,250 of 17,041 Restaurants in London
Price range: $5 - $16
Cuisines: Japanese
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Neighborhood: St. James's
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Decent food but just another Japanese restaurant.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 20, 2013

I called in on a Monday afternoon to make a reservation for their "Japanese Afternoon Tea Experience" as advertised on their website. The website indicated that reservations were to be made online, but the portal only provided for half an hour intervals, which was either too early or too late for me. So, I called in and asked clearly for the deal, having to repeat myself several times as the person who answered was obviously Japanese and did not have a good grasp of English.

Come Tuesday afternoon, walked in and informed the first waiter I had a reservation for 2 under my name for the afternoon tea. We were seated and brought the normal a la carte menus. I waved a second waitress over and explained that I had made a reservation for the afternoon tea experience. Again, she did not speak English very well and said that 'there was no afternoon tea', but that she would check. At this point, I was getting a little frustrated, as I have little patience for such trivialities. After some time, a 3rd waitress came by asking if we would like to order. I replied in what must have been an exasperated tone that I had made a reservation for the afternoon tea experience and that she was the 3rd person to have gotten it wrong. She didn't seem to understand either and went off to "check". We waited again and were finally allocated a European waiter (the previous 3 were all Japanese and did not speak English well) who spoke English fluently albeit with a slight accent. He was extremely apologetic and I would say that being served by him outweighed the confusion which was apparent in the other 3.

Funnily, after the incident, none of the Japanese waiters and waitresses seemed interested in serving us. Instead, we were assigned the 2 waiters, the afore mentioned European waiter and a British waitress. Nevertheless, the service provided by these 2 was fantastic. They were extremely polite, offered to move us to a large booth, constantly on the look out for my wanting hot water refills for the tea, so on and so forth. Apparently, the confusion was over the fact that afternoon tea reservations were only to be done online. I was annoyed because I stated clearly over the phone I was making a reservation at a 15 minute interval which was not offered online, and the person on the phone said she understood. When we had arrived asking for the afternoon tea, it was not prepared, as it usually would be. However, every cloud has a silver lining - because it was not prepared before hand, it had to be prepared on the spot as we sat there waiting. It meant that the food was fresh and hot (the tempura).

As usual, with a pair of people dining on afternoon tea, the stack was shared between my friend and I. I was pleased when the waiter introduced each item to us, as is the usual British afternoon tea custom. There was 1 piece of everything for each person. At the top, there was the assorted kakiage: king prawn, scallop(s) (there were 2 scallops inside each tempura, a nice surprise), sweet potato and pumpkin (? cannot recall). There was a tiny bit of ground daikon and an even tinier portion of ground ginger to cleanse the palate, but I felt more could have been given. We were also given our own dishes of tempura dip. The second tier contained 4 pieces of sushi per person: 2 were salmon roll with cream cheese, 1 was a little spicy and I can't recall what the name of it was, and the last one was a soft shell crab sushi. There were also 2 small pieces of tamago for each person as well. Nothing too outstanding, I found the rice to be a little too sticky for my liking. The salmon roll with cream cheese was quite uninspiring as well. The best was the slightly spicy one I had forgotten the name of. The final tier was rather cute: 1 chocolate daifuku, 1 green tea daifuku, 1 slice of green tea mousse cake and 1 custard dorayaki. This tier was a delightful ending to the meal, and I could not find fault with anything here because they happen to be my favorites.

I chose to have soba buckwheat tea, which was extremely fragrant, and I believe I downed 3 teapots of that stuff. It is lighter than your usual genmaicha, green tea and others. My friend had a green tea matcha latte, which she claims tasted better than most she had sampled in London. As usual, I was not convinced I would be full from 'afternoon tea' but I was proven wrong. At a price of 20GBP per person, excluding service, this was a little on the pricey end, but gave you a large variety of things to sample. What seemed like little nibbles filled me up nicely, but perhaps I should give credit to the copious amounts of tea I downed as well.

TL;DR - Good Japanese Afternoon Tea experience. Food seems standard, nothing too outstanding. Tasty little morsels, both savory and sweet (generous with the sweets at the bottom tier!). Cannot say too much about the other food. Outstanding service, provided they understand you well. Would be great to drop by with almost anyone - there were plenty of couples, but this isn't exactly a 'romantic' place, probably a great setting for friends and family. A lady ate solo next to us and seemed quite cheered by the bustling and bright atmosphere. Not too much of a restaurant setting, seemed like a cafe-restaurant. Prices tend to be a little on the steeper end of affordable, but it is good enough for Central London.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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8 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    4
    2
    1
    0
    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Reading, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
118 reviews 118 reviews
80 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
73 helpful votes 73 helpful votes
“Superb”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2013

Tried this japanese restaurant as the one across the stree which also looks nice (and full of Japanese people) was just packed and there was actually a queue of about 10-15 people outside. But no quee at TOKU which we ate at; the reason was clear in that it was also more expensive than the cheap & cheerful option across the street. At TOKU we paid for GBP 69 for two people service included (12.5% - whcih appears to have now become the standard service rate across most of London - of course you can ask for it to be taken off if you're not satisfied). Which, for the location, is actually really good value

But the service was very friendly and effective, and the food presentation and quality was just superb!

We had the sashimi set, gyoza, and seaweed soba. All was just excellent and beautifully presented. In particular the seaweed soba which I had was really delicious and extremely good quality fresh seaweed.
For desert we tried the speciality of the house which is the Mochi Ice Set: you must try it too. Very cool.

We'll certainly return!!

  • Visited April 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“The reliable one”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2013 via mobile

There maybe more hip Japanese restaurants nearby but they have a queue and cold outside so you need a curry or ramen this place always delivers!

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Frankfurt, Germany
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
27 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Excellent food”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

The food is excellent i recommend the diamond jubilee, perfect match and the salmon roll. We went their by coincidence and so we were very lucky.
I had the first time gyoza and it was very good. They also serve everthing around japanise food not only sushi and sashimi, they serve a lot of different kinds of soups and tempura.
The staff is very friendly und everthing they serve is fresh. If you like japanise food than is this rigth location to have some.

Good food to a good price and soooooooo good

  • Visited March 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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cambridge uk
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
26 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“excellent Japanese food at a reasonable price”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2011

I have been to this restaurant many times as the food is authentic and not too expensive. It is excellent as a pre theatre dining place as the food is light and the service very efficient. The website often has special offers too. If you like real Japanese food which is Western friendly, give this restaurant a try.

  • Visited September 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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