73 Heath Street Hampstead London NW3 6UG
Jin Kichi is the best restaurant in Hampstead – a fabulous, cheery Japanese diner that does everything superbly. Its speciality are the yakitori – grilled skewers, constantly on the go behind the bar. These are all delicious: quails’ eggs, chicken livers, duck with spring onion, shiso leaf and pork, asparagus, and so on. You order them individually, or as a starter set, and you could happily make a meal from these alone. But it seems a shame not to try the sushi here, which is rolled expertly downstairs, or the perfectly-done tempura, or one of the ‘small dishes’ like uzaku (grilled, marinated eel) or hijiki (cooked black seaweed) or one of the rice dishes like zosui (rice and egg in fish stock with salmon or sour plum). This is a place to take your chances and order anything that sounds good. The one drawback is that Jin Kichi is very small, with only a dozen tables upstairs and down, and a few seats at the bar. You need to reserve, most nights, though they’re an accommodating bunch and will do their best to fit you in.