Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Necco review (revisited) - London Exmouth Market Japanese cafe, a quaint little place

Address: 52-54 Exmouth Market,
London EC1R 4QE
Tel: 020 7713 8575
Nearest Tube station: Farringdon

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £10 pp
Service charge: NA
Taste: ***
Service: ***
Ambience: **
Suitable for: a lazy afternoon tea and snacks
Wife and I discovered Necco a couple of weeks back. Even though TT has posted a review on Necco earlier, I thought I’ll just chip in my two cents’ worth on this quaint little Japanese café.

That said, I have never quite figured out the fascination about Exmouth Market. Yes, I get it, it’s a market. Then again, Chapel Market at Angel is one too. Maybe my visits are always ill-timed but I can’t help but notice that the street though lined with nice cafes and restaurants is invariably quiet even on Saturday afternoons and evenings.

Anyway, there we were with HP looking for a quiet spot to laze away the afternoon after a rather unsatisfying lunch at Aqua Kyoto. Perhaps Londoners are all out in the open enjoying the rare spot of sunshine but we were the only ones there save for a staff seated out in the open and was furiously texting someone with her phone.


Having dined there a couple of times before, I know exactly what to order – karaage (fried chicken chunks) and tokoyaki (octopus balls). I did try its chicken katsu curry in an earlier visit. Though its consistency was better than the powdery ones at Wagamama (my favourite example of how not to prepare curry), it was oddly sweet. Though I didn’t expect spicy Indian curries, it seemed that the cook was especially generous with his sugar that day. Even then, it was still better than the one I had at Miso Noodle Bar.


At under a fiver, the karaage was reasonably priced. Though it wasn’t as good as the one I had at Tsuru, Necco’s portion was definitely more generous. More importantly, there was no hint of Necco recycling its frying oil. It would be fantastic if a tinge of lemon juice could be added to the battering.


Takoyaki was one of my favourite s back home. In fact, it was almost a mandatory dish at the basement food halls in the major Singapore malls. While there was a variety of fillings back home (prawns, veg etc.) besides octopus, I realised that ‘tako’ literally meant octopus and the original one at Osaka had only octopus and nothing else.

Necoo did takoyaki beautifully. I wouldn’t want to get your hopes up high though. If you’re going to go for the dish, bear in mind that takoyaki is meant to be a no fuss street fare to keep things in perspective.


HP was quite excited over yakisoba (fried soba noodles). Again, yakisoba was one of the more popular Japanese fare back home and it was often peddled together with takoyaki. Unlike the mess back home (they were usually prepared in a hurry), Necco’s yakisoba was well presented with the usual omelette over the soba lying beneath.

HP seemed a bit disappointed with the dish. Didn’t ask her precisely the reason why with my mouth stuffed with takoyaki. I thought that the noodles was a tad dry, which was nothing the spread of mayonnaise couldn’t overcome.


To top it up, we ordered the green tea tower and the baked cheese cake. The green tea tower looked like the green tea tiramisu. Whilst the cream at the top was somewhat overwhelming, the cake bits in the middle did the trick and we cleaned it up within minutes.


We all agree that the baked cheese cake was better than we expected. The cheesy taste was subtle yet thick and it could certainly hold its own to those served at the more upmarket cafes.

As with most Japanese cafes, I couldn’t fault the service a single bit. Upon noticing that I didn’t order any drink unlike HP and Wife, the waitress came right up with a glass of tapwater without me asking for it. Sometimes, it’s the simple gestures like that which makes all the difference.

Then again, the service could be awfully slow especially if you place an order for sushi. A couple who walked in towards the end of our meal ordered just that. The staff behind the counter was not exactly a sushi chef, either that or Necco’s customers seldom order that. Let’s just say that he wasn’t not quite apt at preparing his sushi. In fact, it was painfully agonizing watching him do it. Don’t take it from me though. Try ordering sushi the next time round and watch him do it yourself. You'll see what I mean.


All in all, I’m extremely glad to have Necco set up stall at Exmouth Market as I was beginning to get a bit embarrassed by my frequent visits to Tenshi. With the weather turning for the better, it would be a good excuse to get out of Angel every now and then.

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Anonymous said...

Now I know where to hunt for my favourite takoyaki! Thanks for the link, C K!

C K said...

@Pleasure Monger,
Not only that, try out its karaage when you're there. It's one of the better ones I've tasted in London.