There are at least a hundred restaurants in London where you can eat sushi. The issue is only a handful serve sushi matching the high standards of Japan at prices we consider reasonable. Often you really have to pay for quality raw fish and shari in this city. At Mugen however, you can eat incredible sushi at a cost that you could agree is fair for London restaurants.
Location & Atmosphere
Mugen is located on a quiet street near Farringdon Station and closest to Chancery Lane tube station. I first heard about it from my Japanese friend who works in the City. Apparently the street was more lively before the pandemic, and lunchtime at Mugen in particular was extremely busy. On the Saturday evening we went at the end of July, it was busy but not full and it seemed like a hidden gem for Japanese expats. When I walked in the staff spoke to me in fluent Japanese, and I saw each table was taken up by Japanese coworkers, friends and couples. Without any exaggeration, for almost two hours my friend and I could only hear Japanese and we also kept our conversation to Japanese too.
Does Mugen have the best sushi in London?
The quality of rice is key to making great sushi. Some master chefs say it is 90% about the rice and 10% about the fish or seafood. Sushi rice needs to be flavourful with elements of sourness from the vinegar and elements of sweetness too. It also needs to be slightly warm or at body temperature. Mugen get this all right and it make such a huge difference. When we had our first nigiri we both commented on how great their sushi meshi was. We also wondered why many other restaurants could not do the same!
What sushi did we order?
We went with the Tokyujo (superior special set) which came with 10 pieces of nigiri and 6 tuna maki rolls. The nigiri neta included salmon, salmon roe, sea bream, tuna, grilled eel, mackerel, scallops and prawn. We shared this set, and I can tell you each nigiri we ate was divine. The quality of the fish and seafood was unquestionable and the size was perfect. I often grumble a lot about ultra-thin prawns or slices not delivering in UK sushi restaurants. There was none of that here and we enjoyed each piece.
Mugen’s signature dish
Matsumae sushi is Mugen’s signature dish. It’s mackerel sushi, cured overnight with vinegar with a layer of transparent konbu seaweed on top. The mackerel is sourced from Norway, and compared to the mackerel you get in Japan it’s a more fatty and rich fish. So there are quite a few Japanese diners who believe it to be the best you can get in Europe and possible superior to Japan. For me, I’d agree it is extremely rich and worth getting. More than anything, I’m impressed with the volume of the mackerel! If you haven’t had mackerel sushi before, I’d recommend having this as a sharing dish because alone it could be a lot to eat!
While the majority of this article is about Mugen, in fact this is only half the story. The menu has plenty of authentic dishes ranging from kushiyaki skewers to zaru soba, and from wagyu shabu shabu beef to traditional kamameshi dishes. There is also an amazing section featuring izakaya fare and otsumami (snacks). We went with a plate of Karaage (Japanese deep fried chicken) and Chicken Nanban (also deep fried chicken but marinated and accompanied with tartar sauce). In Japan, these are typical izakaya choices although after ordering we pondered over our decision to order two similar dishes when there was so many other great items to choose from. We did not regret this later when the dishes arrived though – both were fantastic, although I’m more of a fan of their Karaage if I had to pick one over the other.
Mugen for the best sushi in London?
We absolutely love Mugen. It is a full 5 stars out of 5 stars for us. We went for the sushi and it really delivered. In time, we will be checking out the more fine dining sushi restaurants in London. Probably their sushi will be on par or may even be better. Still, we think great sushi should be accessible, so for this reason as of this moment, Mugen has the best sushi in London for us. The service and the atmosphere is also amazing. Genuinely for the time we were there, it was like we were back in Japan.
By the fact you’ve read up to here, you must be a sushi fan. However, if you are worried about taking friends or people who are not keen on sushi, don’t worry there are many other non-seafood dishes to keep them happy. The menu is one of the most extensive I’ve seen so far in London. It’s really nice to see rare dishes (in London) like Goya Champuru or Shishamo too. I feel like there should be a whole new glossary page just for Mugen’s menu!
Hopefully this article and the ensuing Instagram post puts Mugen into the spotlight it deserves. I am seriously surprised at how unknown this restaurant is compared to others, as it does not appear when you search for “best sushi restaurant London”. If you are looking for an authentic sushi experience in London and not sure where to go, please make sure you check Mugen out.