When you’re in the mood for authentic Japanese cuisine without breaking the bank, definitely consider venturing slightly outside of central London. You’ll come across some hidden gems that serve familiar dishes at a reasonable price, which could easily rival those found in Tokyo or Osaka! Such is the case with Japanese Restaurant Seto in Camden – not so widely known but much appreciated by the Japanese local community. On our visit earlier in the year to this cozy venue, we found several tables occupied by Japanese families and groups of salarymen (coworkers) from nearby offices.
Interior wise the restaurant looks very no frills however if you’ve been to or lived in Japan you’ll probably get that nostalgic kissaten (coffee shop) mixed with family run restaurant style vibe as soon as you enter. If you want super fancy decor or something for your social media feed there are no neon lights or retro artworks here. However, it does have a certain charm with the wooden tables and chairs and lace curtains. Behind which lay a cold London street in winter, but when you come inside you could forgive yourself for thinking you were in Japan especially with all the Japanese you can hear in the restaurant.
What did we eat for Starters?
Seto’s gyoza dumplings are possibly one of the most talked about items on the menu. Many Japanese customers rate the gyoza so highly that even say they’re the best they’ve had in London. We definitely enjoyed eating them too. Quite a few Japanese restaurants in London offer fried dumplings but they seem to lack filling or in some cases are fried with too much oil. Japanese Restaurant Seto certainly do their gyoza the right way – they’re plump, full of filling and fried with the slightest char. These gyoza have the perfect texture and an appealing almost golden appearance.
When in an authentic Japanese restaurant for the first time, I like to try their sushi or sashimi out if this is available. In particular, there is a Maguro test. Great salmon sushi is not hard to serve in the UK, but Maguro (Tuna) is harder to get right. It needs to be fresh and not giving any feeling of having been frozen. As expected, Seto’s Tuna Nigiri Sushi were excellent and potentially my highlight of the meal. The tuna was blissful melt in your mouth grade that you could really savour, and the shari rice was cooked and prepared so well.
Then there was some delightful tableware with a cute fish waiting for you! Not sure if this is a plate you only get with sushi but it was really nice to see after eating the tuna nigiri.
How were our main course dishes?
For my main I had the Assorted Prawn and Vegetable Tempura with a bowl of rice and miso soup. While the prawn was good my favourite was the Japanese pumpkin (Kabocha squash) tempura which was crispy on the outside, and tender plus slightly creamy on the inside.
Some of the dishes my friends ordered were the Tonkotsu ramen and Tonkatsu. The Tonkotsu ramen bowl was also gigantic and so generous in terms of portion size. It looked really good especially the Chashu pork slices! Meanwhile the pork Tonkatsu and stir fried vegetables looked super homely and delicious with a healthy side of stir fried vegetables.
Sake – Sho Chiku Bai
Since the start of the year, I’m trying to learn more about sake and when dining out in Japanese restaurants, I aim to order some sake to go with the meal. This time I ordered the Sho Chiku Bai sake. This is a good well-balanced sake full of harmonious aromas which is said to be good for sake beginners. You can enjoy drinking it at Seto’s in a beautiful blue-swirl pattern cup.
Rating of Japanese Restaurant Seto
Overall everyone was really happy with their food, the atmosphere, and the service. If you’re looking for decent Japanese food at reasonable prices in a family run style atmosphere we recommend to check out Seto. Will definitely be back to try some of the other menu items.
If you’re looking for more Japanese restaurants or cafes in London please do check out our restaurant section. We will have several post coming soon including new Japanese restaurants in Camden and central London! Also if you have been to Japanese Restaurant Seto, please feel free to comment below and let us know how your experience was.