When I heard that a Japanese cafe, Necco, has opened up in Exmouth Market, I couldn't wait to try it. I loved the cakes and pastries available in Tokyo and was eager to see if Necco could deliver the goods.
Necco has a cutesy appeal, with its gaily coloured furniture, a hanging lamp dangling with mother of pearl like butterflies and crocheted mats placed on the seats. On my first visit there, I went for the hot matcha latte and matcha swiss roll. They were heavenly. The swiss roll was light and airy and to my pleasant surprise had a chestnut in the middle of swirl which added some crunch. The matcha latte has just the right touch of bitterness to offset the creaminess of the milk. I was hooked and vowed to return.
On my subsequent visits, I tried a variety of different items. According to their lady boss, their cake menu changes daily so on my subsequent visits, I did not manage to try my beloved matcha swiss roll again. I tried their yuzu (citrus) cream tart which was creamy with just the right touch of tartness to it but it did not wow me as much as the matcha swiss roll.
A friend loved their karaage (little nuggets of chicken thigh) and we both agreed that their takoyaki (baked octopus balls, a popular Osakan street dish, served with a liberal dose of mayonnaise) while not mind-blowing was decent enough.
What was really disappointing was their main dishes - I had their prawn tempura udon once and not only was it one of the smallest portions I had in London, the tempura was mediocre (more dough than prawn) and the broth was almost tasteless.
Service-wise, Necco's Japanese staff were always unfailingly polite but they always seem to be rather shorthanded and service could be terribly slow at times. While Necco is a nice little cafe for tea or desert time, it is not where I want to be for a satisfying Japanese meal.
The author, who goes by the moniker of Twinkle Toes is a regular contributor to both London Chow and Singaporean in London. She, like most of us, lives to eat.