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JAPANESE. 2 Newport Place, Leicester Square, London WC2H 7JJ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7434 1414. Under £10.

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      03.08.2000 01:14
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      Conveniently situated just off Leicester Square, and on the outskirts of Chinatown, Tokyo Diner offers a good variety of inexpensive Japanese dishes. I'm told by Japanese friends that the food isn't terrifically authentic, and has been slightly modified for a British palate, but nonetheless, the basis for the dishes is essentially Japanese. While the restaurant's quite small, tables are crammed into its three floors, and you only rarely have to wait to be seated. Most of the restaurant is non-smoking, with the exception of the smaller top floor. Service is quick and efficient, and complementary cups of Japanese tea are refilled promptly. Décor is minimal, consisting of Japanese film posters and maps of Tokyo, with simple cushioned stools and uncovered wooden tables. The menu includes a typical range of noodle-based dishes, in addition to sushi and sashimi, as well as reasonably priced bento boxes. Donburi dishes are also offered, which consist of lightly-cooked egg on a bed of steamed rice. Food is cooked to order, and is generally of a high standard. The menu is printed afresh every month, but there are generally only minor alterations to the dishes on offer. A particular favourite of mine is the Chicken Katsu Curry - chicken fried in breadcrumbs served with rice and a vegetable curry. Several of my friends highly recommend the Chicken Katsu Don too. Drinks on the menu include both the popular Japanese lagers, Kirin and Asahi, as well as sake by the bottle or the cup. The clientele is very mixed, ranging from students and office workers to tourists. Music is always pleasantly subdued, and is an odd mix of current pop and film or television themes. Also, interestingly, the restaurant doesn't take tips, so there's no quibbling over how much to leave! [Just as an afterthought, the manager tells me he's planning to open another branch in Paris, but it's still a long way off yet..
      .]

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