Issho-Ni Food + Bar
Issho-Ni is a contemporary Japanese food + bar in Bethnal Green. Serving up innovative Japanese Izakaya style sharing small plates. The word Issho-ni 一緒に means together in Japanese.
Clair Su the founder and director of Issho-Ni is no stranger to the restaurant business, as her parents owned the previous Noodle King at the same location. I often peered into the windows of Noodle King whilst passing by on the no 8 bus to Brick Lane. It was always filled with people eating on the long benches.
Location and Interior
Issho-Ni is located along Bethnal Green Road nearby to Brick Lane and Shoreditch and the nearest stations are Bethnal Green and Shoreditch High Street. The restaurant is split into two floors, the first floor is dressed up in fairy lights, dark walnut square tables, Mahogony chairs and two velvet booths to fill larger parties.
Every table has a scannable QR code that takes you to the online menu. You can choose between the A La Carte or Weekday lunch menu. You see the usual sushi, nigiri, sushi platters, grilled and fried selection on the offer.
I was invited down to try out the Build your own bento box from the weekday lunch menu.
What are bento boxes?
Bento boxes are one of the most popular ways to eat lunch in Japan, but they’re still relatively unknown to Americans and Europeans. Bento boxes are small, compartmentalised containers that contain various types of foods that all complement each other, making bento boxes both visually appealing and delicious. It’s simply put, it’s a lunch box. But not just any old lunch box; it’s an entire meal in one container!
What goes in a bento box?
The bento is an iconic Japanese meal. Traditionally, it consists of rice or noodles and meat or fish – carefully packed into separate compartments. Today, bentos have become increasingly elaborate and creative. They’re commonly used as school lunches in Japan, but they can be just as much fun for adults! If you want to learn how to build your own bento box at Issho-ni, you’ve come to the right place.
Issho-Ni Build your own bento box
For only £8 you can build your own bento at Issho-ni from the four different selections to make up a bento box. The bento box has been dated back 1,000 years in Japan and there are many varieties to choose from. I opted for seared butterfish, chicken teriyaki, prawn tempura and green salad for my bento box.
Seared Butterfish Tataki
The classic bento box Is beautifully presented in 5 compartments. You get three slices of seared butterfish, I initially thought it was tofu at first. It’s not often to see butterfish at other Japanese restaurants, the texture is silky smooth paired with the sensational truffle Ponzo dressing, minced truffle, shallots, thinly sliced daikon, and shiso leaf. I couldn’t get enough of the dressing and kept tasting the sauce on its own to figure out the ingredients.
Bitesize Chicken teriyaki is served with red pickled ginger and scallions. I’m glad the waiter gave an extra small dish of teriyaki sauce, as on its own the chicken didn’t hold much flavour. However, the chicken leg pieces are tender and smoky flavour. The extra teriyaki sauce transformed the dish, it’s heavenly sweet thick sauce is made to be drenched with the smoky hot chicken.
A slight let down on the soggy batter, missing that shattering crispy crunch. The prawn used is tasty and sweet. A dashi dipping sauce is filled in the compartment next to the side dish.
A melody of colour mixed leaves tossed together in apple dressing makes a great palate refresher. Mine comes with a piece of lotus crisp.
Exploring the sides, I ordered sweetcorn kakiage and spider roll sushi.
Sweetcorn kakiage £5.80
Usually, when I try any corn fritter style dishes, I tend to regret it immediately, due to heavy flour with no flavour. Issho-ni version has a good ratio of corn to flour and the truffle aioli mayo is a divine delight on its own.
Spider maki roll £12.90
Masterfully crafted in uniform bitesize pieces, filled with deep-fried soft-shell crab, cucumber, chives, takuwan, with a dab of mayo on top.
French toast £7.80
I had my eyes on the French toast and if you think it looks familiar to the one from Shackfuyu, your not wrong. As head chef, Eduardo Aguiar previous skits was at Bone Daddies, Roka and many others. The French Toast is as large as the ones you see in Asia. Thick wedge slice, dusted with matcha and kinako powder, a dollop of red bean paste, served with milk and red bean ice cream. The middle cracks open to a melting warm custard-like sauce, the edges are satisfying extra crunchy.
The drinks menu is filled with a wide selection of drinks, wines, sparkling, an array of Japanese whisky’s, soft drinks, but there is only one mocktail on offer.
Shiso Lemonade £6.50
Seedlip is one of the go-to brands for a non-drinker like me, garden 108 is used with lime and shiso. A lovely refreshing drink to have throughout the meal.
You don’t usually associate the words high-end quality with cheap. Issho-ni delivers delicious food at moderate price points without skimping on quality. The £8 build your own bento box is a bargain and a good way to explore what they have on offer.
Opened in October 2018.
Price: ££ -£££
Nearest tube/overground: Bethnal Green, Shoreditch High Street
Disclaimer: I was invited by Issho-Ni 一緒に and the meal was comped.
More information on Issho-Ni
For more information visit Issho-Ni website.
Issho-Ni Food + Bar
185 Bethnal Green rd,
London, E2 6AB