Itadakizen is a beautifully unique Japanese restaurant serving all vegan food. There are only two branches in the UK, in London and Shrewsbury. We have visited the Shrewsbury branch several times and never fail to be bowled over by the wonderful quality of the food, the ambience of the restaurant and the excellent customer service. Itadakizen Shrewsbury is open for lunch Tuesdays to Thursdays, and for both lunch and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays.
I visited with my husband on Valentine’s Day, although any excuse for sushi is good enough for us! We both ordered the Chef’s Omasake course, which is usually only available on Saturdays. This incredible feast consists of five courses for just £25! Despite this incredibly good value, the quality of the food suggests fine dining.
The first course is a selection of three appetisers. Based on our previous experiences at Itadakizen I can tell you the appetisers vary with each visit and all are delicious. This visit was no exception. We were served spring roll, green beans and potato salad. Let’s be honest, not all spring rolls are created equal. These, however, had the perfect combination of flavourful filling and crispy pastry. The green beans are always a favourite for us; they are marinated in a gorgeous paste, which I imagine contains miso, and beautiful sesame seeds. The potato salad is an appetiser we hadn’t previously sampled, and was definitely not a disappointment. In fact, this was hands down the best potato salad I have ever tasted and I decree that all potato salad should, in fact, be mashed!
The second course was sushi, and as seasoned sushi lovers this was the highlight of our night. For the first time at Itadakizen, the sushi was served as a build-your-own affair. Every element had been so perfectly prepared that not only was building our own sushi an incredibly fun activity, but the sushi was every bit as delicious as it would have been had it been rolled for us! If you’ve ever tried to make your own sushi, you’ll know that the hardest part is slicing the sushi roll! This element had been taken away and we were shown how to roll a little filling inside a square of nori by hand. It was fun, tasty and we will probably start doing this at home, too!
The third course was tempura vegetables. Who doesn’t love anything that has been deep-fried in flavoursome tempura batter? The vegetables ranged from baby corn (not my favourite vegetable, I must admit, but the magic of tempura made it quite enjoyable) to broccoli (this might have been the best bit of broccoli I’ve ever eaten) to a carrot fritter! The soy sauce-based dip that comes with this seriously next level; I invariably always drink the rest after I’ve eaten the tempura!
The fourth course, and something I can never resist, was spicy creamy ramen. This particular ramen, which is made creamy with the edition of soy milk, is not normally available as part of the Chef’s course but was made on request for us. This is the most mouthwateringly incredible ramen, no words can do it justice. Aside from the gorgeous broth, my favourite part of this dish is the spicy scrambled tofu. That’s the part that looks a little bit like mince on the above photo, and is really is exceptional.
Unfortunately we realised our car park ticket was about to run out before we ate dessert and had to make a hasty exit. Not to worry, the lovely staff boxed our desserts for us and we ate them at home later. I do have a sweet tooth, and dessert is usually my favourite part of any meal, but although this chocolate tart and brownie was tasty I must admit that, for me, it wasn’t on a par with the first four courses. In fairness, though, the first four courses were so exceptional that they were extremely hard to follow!
All in all, our visit to Itadakizen was a fantastic experience at what is our all-time favourite restaurant. My husband describes the food as, “THE food that would convince a non-vegan that vegan food is delicious” and I agree completely. What I love most about Itadakizen is that eating their food really gets me in the mood for cooking. I instantly long to recreate everything I eat there at home! With all this in mind, I recommend anyone, vegan or otherwise, to visit Itadakizen as soon as possible!