Japanese, vegan, and organic? No wonder Itadaki Zen is the first of its kind in Europe. But despite operating from a narrow pool of ingredients, the predominantly noodle/tofu/seaweed menu impresses with its range of tastes and textures. Grilled spring rolls with soft mashed tofu filling were a welcome change to the usual greasy, stringy sort, while the ‘kakiage’ tempura for main had the same salty, crisp, golden, gorgeous smack as chips on Brighton pier, and came with fluffy rice.
Our oh-so-casual waiter (dressed in jogging bottoms, no less) perfectly matched the restaurant’s tone, with its frayed tie-dye hessian curtains and bunches of wheat swaying lazily from the ceiling. The Zen-like lack of music, chatter or even ticking clocks made us wary of slurping our udon noodles too loudly, although some may enjoy the tranquillity.
All puddings are sugar-free on principle, which made the pumpkin cake with tofu cream too savoury for us, tasting as it did of Irish potato farl. Instead, maybe try a pungent sasou tea, made from bamboo leaf and buckwheat, which promises to soothe a weak stomach. Probably a good thing, after three courses of tofu. Note: there is a large selection of set menus in addition to individual dishes.
139 KING’S CROSS ROAD
MEALS SERVED 6-10PM MON-THUR; 6-10.30PM FRI, SAT
Vegan food never excited me, but I’ve been hearing such good things about this place, I had to try it. I would never have put Japanese and vegan in one sentence either. We were intrigued and wanted to try everything on the menu and ended up almost ordering one of everything.
Food arrived all at once and it was better than I ever expected. Everything was seasoned and flavoured perfectly. I wouldn’t have guessed I was eating vegan and could possibly convert if I were eating like this everyday. I felt really healthy after the meal and was full just right.
Wheelchair access: The only issue with this place was the big step to get in and the narrow stair way down to the toilets. So it’s not wheelchair accessible, but the food is definitely worth trying.
As a vegetarian, I am always excited when I can eat a full menu. It’s great that I can bring my vegan friends too.
I love sushi and this place is perfect for me.
The tofu is wonderful. Try the saki!