Quite simply, the wisest £4.50 you can spend on a meaty snack in the capital is on Kingsland Road, at this wildly popular spot nestled between the Overground station and the Rio cinema.
Sit at the counter for the theatre of the open kitchen, order the house red (an okay Nero D’Avola, £21), and then work your way through a selection of snacks which veer from tiny to not-so-tiny. Or rather, that’s what we did.
But fried chicken to start was a let-down, only because the battered morsels were slightly bony and too lean; but lowering our expectations, it cunningly disarmed us for what followed.
Salmon tataki proved a beautiful plate of charred, peach-coloured fish, with pickled ginger and bamboo shoots, a note of wasabi in the dressing. Up next was a halved scotch egg, golden-yolked and moist, with dipping pot of dark brown katsu curry.
Jidori is a yakitori (or skewered chicken) restaurant that takes its name from the special breed of free-range birds renowned for what they call “robust flavour and impeccable freshness” in Japan. Staying true to this ethos, the team here use poultry delivered from Yorkshire, utilising every part – whether it ends up on a stick or flavouring broth.
This attention to detail is not surprising given the pedigree of the owner. Back in 2006 Brett Redman opened Elliot’s in Bethnal Green, followed by the Pavilion in Victoria Park a year later, and then, in 2011, a more hi-falutin version of Elliot’s in Borough Market, still one of our go-tos in the area. (Closer to Jidori, you may also remember now-closed seafood restaurant The Richmond, at the intersection of Dalston and Hackney.)Back to the present. At the heart of the kitchen are custom-made Kama-Asa Shoten grills, sourced directly from Tokyo – and it’s these that lend the dishes such a thwack of flavour. Mune (chicken breast) with yuzu kosho – a kind of wasabi – was tender enough, but it was the plate of negima (thigh) that required a repeat order instantly: butter-soft, melt-in-the-mouth, chargrilled, with the right ratio of spring onion for bite.
We’ll say it again: at £4.50, this is quite simply one of the finest things in London. Need some colour? Try a side of sesame and chilli marinated cucumbers, or onsen egg, slow-cooked in broth, sprinkled with chilli pepper and tare.
We gobbled nine plates of varying sizes, including sides, and a bottle of wine: between two people, the bill was £69 including service. You can’t beat that really, nowadays. Let’s hope the swankier 50-cover new sister branch in Covent Garden, just open, is as staggeringly good as this original.