Bincho Yakitori: An Asian Treat for Street Food Lovers
Preston Street is generally somewhere I avoid like the plague, owing to its reputation for greasy takeaway joints and poor scores on the doors. But a few doors up from The Royal Sovereign pub, is a spot that makes me break that rule – Bincho Yakitori, home of authentic Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese street food.
The last time I visited Bincho (I’ve been twice), the exterior was hidden by ugly, imposing scaffolding. Luckily, I had recommendations from a number reliable sources that behind this eyesore lay a foodie treat.
When you first enter the restaurant you may not be convinced it’s anything special – but as my wise old dad drummed into me as a child – you should never judge a book by its cover.
It’s bijoux and understated, seating just 30. Low lit lighting does a good job of hiding the imperfections on the neutral walls but also creates an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. There’s the choice to either sit at the bar – facing the open kitchen next to other diners you may not know, at the window – handy for people watching or at the back of the restaurant if you prefer a little more privacy.
Refreshed with daily specials and printed on a weekly basis, Bincho’s menu creates a reason to return. Dishes are designed for sharing and are served up with no-fuss, presentation but powerfully flavoured and cooked well. There’s plenty of variety too and vegetarian options that rival the meat ones. The Edamame – £3, sprinkled with rock salt, are a particular veggie favourite of mine, as are the Charred Soft Sweet Potato in their skins – £4.
I’ve visited twice now and tried several dishes, none of which I can fault. The skewered meats were succulent and bursting with complex layers of flavour and the asparagus wrapped in bacon, firm to bite.
Of everything I’ve tried, my top choices are:
- Chicken thigh/wing – £3.20
- Asparagus & bacon – £3.20
- Pork belly – £3.50
- Lamb chops – £6.90
- Charred sweet potato – £4
- Quail teriyaki – £5.20
- Garlic rice – £3.70
Although, I am yet to try the more adventurous items on the menu, e.g. Chicken Skin – £3.20 and Chicken Hearts – £3 – next time I visit I will be braver and let you know whether these should be tried too.
Price-wise it’s extremely good value for money too with dishes starting from as little at £2.80 and rising to no more than £6.90, with the majority around the £4 mark. The Saint Etalon Sauvignon Blanc wine was also reasonable at £19.50 and paired well with all dishes.
PRICE: £90.20 for 4 people + 2 bottles of wine (£22.55pp)
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
SCORES ON THE DOORS: 5/5 from the FSA for food hygiene
I’ve never tasted Japanese cuisine in its motherland, but I’m willing to bet my life it’s pretty close to what is served up at Bincho Yakitori. Service is efficient, friendly and informed with the kitchen able to cater to the very specialist dietary requirements (my friend had a serious chilli allergy and was vegetarian). Taking this all into consideration, Bincho has more than earnt its position, in my Brighton & Hove Food Guide and its ‘Must Go’ rating.
NEED TO KNOW:
Bincho closes on Mondays and opens Tuesday through to Sunday. Seatings are open from 5:30pm/6pm until 10pm/10:30pm. It’s also best to book a table in advance as it’s always busy. Just tweet @BinchoYakitori or email firstname.lastname@example.org.