Another frantic lunchtime spot in Central London, Japanese Canteen beats heading to the same old chains you see on every street corner – but only just.
Among a sea of eateries vying for lunchtime trade, Japanese Canteen does well to stand out courtesy of its large frontage, comprised almost entirely of glass, and the vibrant red, black and white signage that gets its point across. Inside, there’s the usual display of easy to grab nibbles and drink on neat little shelves, a counter area that does well to deal with the crowds and a few simple tables and high stools in red and blue for those looking to eat in (although good luck nabbing one of these after 12pm). To be honest, though, you’re unlikely to even see the decor through the throngs of hungry office workers.
The atmosphere at Japanese Canteen can be frantic to say the least – reflecting a similar scene to the hundreds of other lunchtime spots that pepper this area. The servers do a good job of keeping up with the queues though and you’re unlikely to be waiting too long, which is especially pertinent when you’ve only got an hour to spare at most. The service is a little abrupt at times but then the majority of people don’t seem to care too much – they just want to get in, grab food, stuff in face, leave.
The food at Japanese Canteen is basic and well priced with a substantial dish costing around £5-£7 with extras like miso soup costing just £1.50. It’s certainly within the budgets of most Central London workers. The bento boxes seem to be popular and there’s also an array of noodle dishes, stir fires and ramens. A nice touch is you can choose the stock yourself – the spicy coconut with lemongrass adds a nice tang to the dish but still borders on being a little insipid. The salmon ramen (£5.95) does offer some quite generous chunks of salmon, though, which is good given it’s a premium ingredient. Mixed with vegetable and seaweed, it’s bulky enough that you’ll feel pleasantly full after a visit even if it won’t blow you away with Japanese flavours.
Grab a can of Coke, an orange juice or a water – there’s not a great deal of choice drinks wise but enough to keep you well watered for lunch and prices are around £1-£2.
The Last Word
Japanese Canteen offers a good choice for lunch when you’re fed up of the same old coffee shop sandwiches. Worth a visit at least once to make up your own mind.