JapaneseLondon.com’s Vanessa uncovers 4 awesome Japan-inspired businesses in Dalston that you need to check out.
Café OTO – Perched on upcycled wooden chairs and sipping flat whites, everyone in Café OTO is discussing Japan. So-and-so’s brother has just got back. French students exchange tips for dating Japanese women. Perhaps they’re trying too hard? But the charm of OTO (the kanji 音 for OTO – meaning ‘sound, noise, note’) is that it really isn’t. There’s laid back, unique, cosmopolitan London vibe.
During the day, it serves coffee and tasty, casual Perisan lunches by ‘Zardosht’ featuring soups, freshly baked wraps and baked eggs (see? Not trying too hard), making it an awesome spot for using their free, reliable wifi getting some work done until 5.30pm when they close for soundchecks.
Most evenings, however, Café OTO opens its heart to welcome highly innovative international musicians and general makers of interesting noise. Some Japanese acts, naturally, but really eclectic world-music acts you’d be pushed to find elsewhere. Autumn line up stars the brilliantly mad jazz ensemble Sun Ra Arkestra in a 2-day residency including a matinee, and ‘Future Music’ workshops for children. Something for everyone.
The Guardian really rate it: ‘Why east London’s Café Oto is Britian’s coolest music venue’
Cafe OTO, 18–22 Ashwin street, Dalston, London E8 3DL
Monday–Friday, 8.30–5.30pm. Saturday, 9.30–5.30pm. Sunday, 10.30–5:30pm. Gigs begin 8pm usually, buy tickets online to guarantee entry.
Mamachari – A neighbour to Café OTO, this bike shop founded in 2012 focuses on reconditioned Japanese bikes known as ‘mamachari’ (nickname for the bikes known as ‘Mama’s Chariot’). With classic – yet quirky – styling these bikes have massive appeal to those who crave something a little different, but both affordable and highly functional. Mamacharis are excellent for carting the kids around, and ‘kodomonose’ are bikes made specifically for that purpose with buit in child-seats (at the front!). I desperately want one of these, whizzing around London cycle paths with my two-year-old will be just as fun as riding through the rice fields used to be!
Mamachari, 18 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL (New branch also now open in Walthamstow).
Mon, Wed, Fri 8:30-6:00pm. Tues & Thur 8:30-7:00pm. Sat 10:00 – 6:00pm. Sun 12:00 – 6:00pm.
Brilliant Corners – Inspired by ‘kissaten’, Japan’s jazz coffee shops, Brilliant Corners serves Japanese food, and streams many genres of music. Aiming for inclusivity and relaxation, it’s also a place for a dance. A Time Out restaurant reviewer found it ‘random’ and disliked ‘the fifty-somethings gyrating as we tried to concentrate on nibbling our sushi’. Users respond siting its excellent sound system, natural wines and tasty Japanese food. And lack of Time Out readers, presumably.
Brilliant Corners, 470 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AE
Open Tuesday – Thursday 5.30pm – 12pm. Friday & Saturday 5.30pm – 1.30am. Sunday 4pm – 12pm. Kitchen 6:30pm – 11.00pm
Jidori – A new yakitori restaurant that focuses on the quality of ingredients. Yakitori skewers are prepared in front of you at the bar, on a custom made Kama-Asa Shoten grill, sourced directly from Tokyo. The menu is short and sweet, featuring different style of chicken yakitori, as well as a couple vegetarian options (aubergine & miso butter, king oyster mushroom). The katsu curry scotch egg is popular, as are the cocktails.
Jidori, 89 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2PB
Open Monday – Thursday 6pm – 11pm. Friday – Saturday 6pm – 12am. Saturday & Sunday brunch 12pm – 4pm