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New issue 52

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RESTAURANTS 45 www.guestlist.net Issue 52 / 2013 Itadaki Zen Whatever your position on Itadaki Zen, it certainly has one thing no other restaurant in Europe can boast: the title of Europe's only vegan, all-organic, Japanese restaurant. A diminutive but welcoming space, Itadaki Zen is nestled in the heart of King's Cross. With a fa├žade straight out of a high street in Feudal Japan, Itadaki Zen lures visitors in with rustic, oriental hemp drapes partitioning off the rooms and authentic Japanese produce for sale on shelves. Perhaps as a long-time nihongophile myself, it was my personal affinity for all things Far Eastern that evoked the genuinely Zen-like calm which descended as I crossed the threshold into the restaurant, but it does, detectably, evince a refreshing and peaceful atmosphere. With disembodied, tinkling instrumental music radiating softly in the background, old leather menu covers and vintage oriental screens, Itadaki Zen has enough charm to move the most hard-hearted of food critics. If you're a sucker for a restaurant with a heart, look no further than Itadaki Zen with a note in the menu politely reminding visitors not to waste any food and no expense spared to keep all ingredients organic (including the excellent soy sauce), it successfully vindicates its vegan food policy. The restaurant's ethics are only one side of its story, with substantial evidence that they are an enterprising holistic health project, soothing body, mind and soul with its superfood-rammed menu and medicinal herbal teas. The service is satisfactory and the variety, for a vegan restaurant, is surprisingly wide and balanced. For an original take on a traditional Japanese dish, the oriental herb sushi is highly recommended. Perhaps a little too pretentiously New Age for some, Itadaki Zen is not for everyone but for foodies with a conscience and a penchant for gourmet Japanese cuisine or in-the-know Londoners, it is a must-visit venue worth deviating from one's well-trodden path to visit. As for those with a sense of adventure or a taste for the exotic, it is also well worth a stopover. Plan your visit on Itadaki Zen's website: itadakizen-uk.com

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