The West End has been one of London’s central tourist draws since time immemorial, studded with fantastic theatres, louche bars and entertainment aplenty. However one of the eternal dichotomies of the area is that when it comes to dining out it’s easy to get lost in a Day-Glo wasteland of Angus Steakhouses and overpriced tourist traps. Despite this, my date and I were hungry enough to throw caution to the winds after what had felt like an eternity trapped in Leicester Square’s confectionary themed cathedral of masochism: M&M’s World (which was clearly a circle of hell that even Dante felt was too nightmarish to include in the Inferno). Despite our initial Vietnam veteran style thousand yard stares (inspired by our time in the Temple of M&Mammon) once we’d stepped into Machiya, a bustling new Japanese restaurant on Panton Street, and ordered some more than palatable sparkling sake, it was hard not to feel that the evening was starting to look up.
Despite a certain ‘hole in the wall’ quality that initially made us doubtful of the restaurant’s providence (the menu is also notably cheap for the West End which, whilst hardly a complaint, had us on our guard) once the food began to arrive those doubts were thoroughly assuaged. The menu is split between a well curated range of izakaya, yashoku and washoku sections, along with a series of traditional (and not so traditional in the case of my date’s gin based ‘Jigglypuff’) cocktails (that we investigated with the journalistic rigor that KCWToday is known for) which were all more than satisfactory. I ordered the Gyudon Shredded beef and onions in sweet sauce which was delivered with a truly heroic portion size which brought an immediate glint to my date’s eyes as she estimated how much of it she would be able to appropriate before I could feasibly complain. We were both more than satisfied with the Gyudon, until the arrival of her gyukatsu, a part cooked wagyu steak crusted in panko breadcrumbs which arrived with its own grill to allow us to cook the meat to the exact level we wanted it. The beef was heartbreakingly tender, and the competition for who would get the most steak was vicious, with wars having been fought over less. Whilst the wagyu is notably more expensive than the rest of the menu, it’s a more than worthwhile investment (though I fear my relationship with my date will never recover). The quality of Machiya’s menu (coupled with its low prices) makes it more than worthy of seeking out if you’re in the West End, perhaps give M&Ms World a miss though.
5 Panton St SW1Y 4DL
Opening Hours: 12-11pm