Skip to main content

The Sunday Times Food List Top 10 and Jinkichi

Pork and shiso rolls at Jinkichi

Jinkichi is another of those Japanese restaurants for which I have a massive soft spot and like to visit as often as possible.

Their speciality is yakitori, and they offer slightly esoteric items such as tori-kawa (chicken skin), suna-gimo (chicken gizzards), gyu-tan (ox tongue), and occasionally, if you're very lucky, nankotsu (chicken cartilage - crunchy heaven).

They also have zosui rice soup, as well as tuna natto, salmon jaws, and my beloved Calpico. So not just sanitised sushi and tempura, and more like downtown Tokyo.

Ox tongue at Jinkichi

The food is smashing, but despite being in Hampstead, Jinkichi is far from fancy - you wouldn't expect to see it get into the Michelin Guide any time soon.

It has, however, made the Food List. For, tomorrow, the first ever The Food List: Britain’s Top 200 Restaurants will be launched by the Sunday Times, and Jinkichi has made number 71.

And the reason Jinkichi is there (above many other more chichi joints) is because this list concentrates purely on the food.

Maguro natto at Jinkichi

The Sunday Times Food List, compiled in association with Harden’s, identifies the top 200 restaurants across the whole of the UK, as voted for by 8000 customers, based on food alone - not ambience, or service - just the food.

Michael Caines' Gidleigh Park in Devon comes top of the league table with Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck coming a close second. Surprisingly, Gordon Ramsay has no restaurants at all in the top half of The Food List - his Hospital Road restaurant was placed 52nd, and Petrus was rated 77th.

Duck at Jinkichi

On the other hand, former Petrus chef and Ramsay's rival, Marcus Wareing won the number three spot with his restaurant in The Berkeley Hotel (previously managed by Ramsay).

The Ledbury is at fourth place and, at number five is Michel Roux's The Waterside Inn in Bray.

Hiyayakko tofu at Jinkichi

The Food List, a 32-page special supplement of the best 100 restaurants, with profiles of the top 25, will come with every paper copy of The Sunday Times tomorrow (similar to existing supplements such as the Sunday Times Rich List).

The complete list of 200 restaurants will be available exclusively at, accessible to subscribers all year round.

Miso cod at Jinkichi

I'm all in favour of the new Food List, as although I appreciate the theatre of dining out, the most important thing to me is that the food is good.

I don't really drink wine; I don't mind if the cutlery is stainless steel or silver; I don't care if the waiter comes and combs the crumbs away. Most of the time, I just want to know that I will eat something that makes me happy.

I also like that the list is based on the opinion of members of the public like me rather than Michael Winner's whims - nearly 100,000 user-generated reviews in total.

What this means is that enough people recommended the food at Jinkichi for it to go straight onto the Food List (beating Petrus).

I can't wait to see what else is on there.


  1. Gidleigh Park
  2. The Fat Duck
  3. Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley
  4. The Ledbury
  5. The Waterside Inn
  6. Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons
  7. Le Gavroche
  8. L’Enclume
  9. One-O-One
  10. The Kitchin

Yakitori grill at Jinkichi
73 Heath Street
London NW3 6UG
020 7794 6158

Jin Kichi on Urbanspoon

The Food List: Britain’s Top 200 Restaurants is compiled in association with Harden’s, publisher of The UK Restaurant Guide, and a paper version of the Top 100 is out tomorrow with the Sunday Times.

The full list of 200 Restaurants will be published online on Sunday October 31st on

sunday times logo

I was invited to Jinkichi last Thursday by the Sunday Times to discuss the list and the restaurant industry. The discussions were filmed, so it's possible I might be gurning on the website.


Unknown said…
Brilliantly said! As much as I enjoy the glamour/drama of an occasional visit to a top-end restaurant, if the food doesn't live up to the ambience I'm not going to be happy even before I get the (enormous) bill!

I'd much rather fabulous food with friendly service on plastic table cloths. Will look forward to the paper tomorrow, thanks MiMi.
Dennis K. said…
Awesome post as always Meemalee! I love casual places. I wonder how good the food will have to be to entice me in wearing a coat and tie, haha. ;)
meemalee said…
@Kanga_Rue - Exactly, it's what keeps me going back to Song Que. Thank you :)

@Dennis K - Aw, thanks Dennis! Yeah, it's easier for girls :p
It's on my list! I should love yakitori joints more than I do, they're all of my favourite things (salty, offaly finger food) but haven't been anywhere since a really uninspiring night at Bincho. I'll be giving Jinkichi a go soon, if you can get in after the listing comes out!

AussieFoodie said…
I better go to the paper, and to Hampstead. I love love love chicken skin. Was one of my favorite naughties when we were in Japan last year.

Did try cartledge....wont go there again I am afraid!
meemalee said…
@Grumbling Gourmet - Jinkichi is much rougher round the edges than Bincho and that's why I like it.

There's a new yakitoriya in Holborn called Mino Kitchen which I was looking forward to, but it's had some decidedly mixed reviews.

@Aussie Foodie - Good for you for trying it though - most people would refuse point blank :)
chumbles said…
Excellent stuff and the idea behind the list is one which all of us normal folk would applaud; although decent service and pretty surrounds are nice; the cooking is the essence of what you go there for. Some of the most enjoyable meals I've ever had have been in family run places serving the food communally on oilskin tablecloths in French country farmhouses!
meemalee said…
@chumbles - Exactly!