Where to Eat in London: Toconoco Japanese Cafe


Toconoco | Japanese Cafe | Hackney | Website
– reservations not available –

It’s difficult to explain the serenity I felt in the cafe’s of Tokyo. It really feels as though you are being whisked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A cafe is no longer just somewhere to eat and drink. It’s a sanctuary from modern life. It is this feeling I have been craving ever since I returned from Japan. I didn’t think I’d find it again, until I happened upon Toconoco.

Toconoco is a child-friendly Japanese cafe on Kingsland Basin, Regents Canal. Surrounded by canal boats and wildlife, this little sun trap feels miles away from the streets of Shoreditch. I headed there on a weekday afternoon around 12:30. They had tweeted their daily lunch set photo, and it looked too perfect to miss out on (only 15 lunch sets are made each day). Lunch sets are very popular in Japan, and I miss the concept here. It varies depending on the restaurant, but they usually come with a main, a side salad, rice and a miso soup. Toconoco’s lunch set on that particular day was ham croquettes, and it was every bit the same as those I’d had in Japan. The ingredients were fresh and delicious, complimenting each other perfectly. The delicate use of sauces and dressings is something I have yet to master in my Japanese cooking. However Toconoco are clearly skilled in this art. We also ordered a side of Egg Miso-Mayo Toast with spring onion, sesame oil and chilli flake. How could I pass on something that sounds so intriguing? The toast had a distinct Japanese flavour to it and was lighter (and less rich) than regular egg mayo.

The main thing I took away from my visit to Toconoco, was how authentic it is. The food is prepared fresh everyday, and is fitting to the weather and season. This is real Japanese food. Not the hyped up, overpriced kind you find in restaurants in Soho. This is home-cooking style, made with love and care.  It reminded me that we should all take some time to relax, and that eating should be seen as one of life’s simple pleasures. Because eating at Toconoco is certainly no chore.

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