I'm in two minds as to how I feel about that. While undoubtedly food is the most important element, an average experience can be lifted by great service, or ambience. However, this list is also a powerful tool because of its Harden's connection; it's not a list based on AA Gill's taste, or Coren's fancies. Instead, it's a number of people's views. It goes live at midnight on Sunday and in addition to Sunday's supplement you can find The Food List here. Sorry, but it's behind the paywall. You may be interested to hear that Gidleigh Park in Devon is ranked number one ahead of The Fat Duck.
Still, what of Jinkichi? It's ranked number 72 on the list. We had a selection of skewers:
Pork with shiso leaves - these were excellent. Smoky meat was decently fatty with citrus tang of the shiso.
Chicken balls were the least adventurous of our choices. They were surprisingly soft, none of that bounce I had expected.
Chicken gizzards were exact opposite. Gristly, chewy (and this is a good thing) and satisfyingly chickeny.
Ox tongue skewers had a lovely bounce to them; these were my favourite.
We had a hell of a lot of deep fried stuff too.
Agedashi tofu were beautifully crisp, though I was disappointed that they were made with quite firm tofu. I'm told a lot of places now do this as it's easier to handle.
Tempura again showed that someone was adept at the fryer.
Chicken karage was served with a ponzu dipping sauce which was spicy and full of mouth tingling freshness. Deep fried octopus was rather pointless; you couldn't tell it was octopus, it was just a texture in batter.
As if that wasn't enough, we ordered some other bits. Standouts in particular:
Grilled salmon jaw. Perfectly cooked and the grated daikon accompaniment was very moreish. Black cod miso was similarly excellent.
Nigiri and sashimi were all good, fresh examples but I particularly enjoyed the cubes of tuna sashimi with natto. I asked for it as I'm determined not to let my first experience of natto put me off; this was far more subtle and enjoyable.
All washed down with some Sapporos and a sake, it was an excellent meal. Hampstead is a bit bloody far though.
73 Heath Street
London NW3 6UG
Tel: 020 7794 6158