Sunday, 17 October 2010

Aji Noodle Bar Japanese Canteen review – strictly for tourists


Address: County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road,
London SE1 7PB
Tel: 020 7734 2223
Nearest Tube station: Waterloo, Westminster

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £15 pp
Service charge: N.A.
Taste: **
Service: ***
Ambience: **
Wife and I have in the past studiously avoided Aji Noodle Bar Japanese Canteen at along Westminster Bridge Road all this while because of a single review we came across sometime back. The reviewer was taken aback when he was asked whether he would like to have soba or udon for his ‘yakisoba’. He has never come across yaki (stir fried) udon – udon is typically boiled or served in soup, never stir-fried.

Neither have we.

It’s funny how desperation can drive people into doing seemingly unimaginable things. Jumping off a moving train for one, asking strangers for change is another, or even place a booking on Toptable for dinner for two and the half people at Aji Noodle Bar on a weekday. These days, we crave certainty and this is as close to that as possible.

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Aji Noodle Bar was half very nearly empty when we marched in at 8pm. There was a table occupied by a family of tourists, with children still wildly excited about their London Eye ride, a harried looking mother and a father who looked like he would rather be elsewhere. Two well dressed ladies who couldn’t be more out of place occupied a smaller table. A tour guide with his retainers sat on another, a low budget tour apparently. And of course, there was a table by the side with a conspicuous ‘Reserved’ tag placed on it. Obviously, that was ours.

We avoided noodles

We didn’t feel like having noodles after the review so we went for the curry rice dishes instead. A crime I know but you could manage rice with a single hand wielding a spoon while hanging onto the Little One on the other hand, chopsticks on the other hand is a tad trickier.

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My chicken katsu curry (£7.95) turned out much better than I expected. While it’s not exactly like the one at Tokyo Diner, Aji Noodle Bar’s curry is creamy, not powdery like Wagamama’s and was way ahead of Wasabi’s.


Lightly battered chicken breast was served. Though it tasted a bit flat, it was more meat than batter, which is more than I can say for the same dish served elsewhere.

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Wife ordered white fish katsu curry (£7.95) simply because she has ‘not seen battered fish with Japanese curry before’. That bit of adventurism didn’t quite paid off. Aji Noodle Bar’s white fish was taken directly out from the freezer and thrown into the deep fryer. The interior was still mushy when served though the curry quickly overwhelmed any taste that the fish might have.

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The ebi fry (£2.95) didn’t quite make the mark as well. Two strands of reconstituted prawns (still mushy within) and mayo, enough said.

While its chicken katsu curry wasn’t too bad, I’m sorry to say that my only take away from the meal was the 200 points in Toptable. This one is strictly for the tourists.

Aji Japanese Canteen on Urbanspoon

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11 comments:

Tourists from LA said...

My family were tourists visiting back in march and it was quite bad. I had one of the noodle dishes and it was a chinese style white noodle which the cook didn't bother to break up so there was a lump of raw noddle dough stuck together. Pretty sad. Looks like the people running it were from somewhere in south east asia.

C K said...

@Tourists from LA,
Ouch! That sounds awful. That reminds me of my experience with one of the noodle stalls in Camden Town. That's another strike for Aji's noodles.

Where else did your family eat when they were here? How was their experiences?

Tourists from LA said...

Your blog is brilliant because we stayed at the Hilton Islington and we're probably going to stay around the same area in the future. We visited The Crown, SeaFish, The Landsdowne in Camden, The Wallace Collection for tea, the ossies jerk chicken a couple of times, El Molino, Aji noodle, the kebob shop across the street from the hotel on Upper St. and McDonalds. I can elaborate on any of them if you're interested. Tried to seek the british/british colonial/immigrant (ethnic) experience.

C K said...

@Tourist from LA,
Thanks for the rundown! Didn't expect tourists to stay in Islington's Hilton really. I have always thought of it as a more business hotel.

Heheh, speaking of the kebab shop, that's one of my many vices and I often grab a quick one over there on my way back. Thinking of it makes me hungry.

Did you eventually find your british/british colonial/immigrant (ethnic) experience? For the ultimate English high tea experience, I would recommend Ritz but that's booked up for a couple of months in advance...

Tourists from LA said...

The main attraction of our excursion was going to see a couple of football matches. Since we've never been there, I picked what seemed to be the most convenient hotel to the stadium that seemed reasonable. We're also not a very ordinary bunch since we're on a budget and did things that seemed 'essential' yet didn't want to be led by a leash. Let's just say that carrying luggage up the Angel station's escalator was not very enjoyable. I'll probably catch a bus at King's Cross next time. Actually I believe that the bus system is much better for sightseeing than being stuck underground in the tube.
Going back to food. The kid is 5 years old so that explains all the trips to the McDonalds. That also explains why there's no indian or thai food on our list because of the spice and also why we ended up at Aji. It was 3 days into our trip and the only thing that she seems to like was chips, McDonalds and apple juice. So I wanted to feed her something that she likes back home which is noodles. Actually, all our food experiences left quite a bit to desire. Some of the dishes like at the Crown seemed to try so hard, it tasted alright but it could be a bit down to earth. The sunday lunch at the landsdowne was very good but I was looking for a red meated roast and there was none on the menu. The Wallace tea was ok. The food was lovely, the assam tea was ok but the fake plastic trees and plants really put a damper. I suppose they don't have much choice since keeping live ones would be nearly impossible. Not sure what they can do with that lovely courtyard.
Ossie's jerk chicken was one of the better places that I visited. It can be a bit dry, in that case, go for the goat curry, it's lovely. I wish they were american size portions because I could have gone for 1 1/2 orders of it but not 2. That would be a bit much. They're behind Saisbury's on chapel market. Takeaway with stop at the off-license.
It will be difficult to get to all the places that I want to visit in London with the kids. Too much walking for her in 10 degree weather when we're used to driving everywhere in 28 degree weather. I suppose I needed to plan better to avoid those crazy treks. With all the museums being free of admission, we didn't make it to any of them. Well, the Wallace, but that was really brief. Sorry to ramble, but all in all we had a wonderful trip.

Tourists from LA said...

The main attraction of our excursion was going to see a couple of football matches. Since we've never been there, I picked what seemed to be the most convenient hotel to the stadium that seemed reasonable. We're also not a very ordinary bunch since we're on a budget and did things that seemed 'essential' yet didn't want to be led by a leash. Let's just say that carrying luggage up the Angel station's escalator was not very enjoyable. I'll probably catch a bus at King's Cross next time. Actually I believe that the bus system is much better for sightseeing than being stuck underground in the tube.
Going back to food. The kid is 5 years old so that explains all the trips to the McDonalds. That also explains why there's no indian or thai food on our list because of the spice and also why we ended up at Aji. It was 3 days into our trip and the only thing that she seems to like was chips, McDonalds and apple juice. So I wanted to feed her something that she likes back home which is noodles. Actually, all our food experiences left quite a bit to desire. Some of the dishes like at the Crown seemed to try so hard, it tasted alright but it could be a bit down to earth. The sunday lunch at the landsdowne was very good but I was looking for a red meated roast and there was none on the menu. The Wallace tea was ok. The food was lovely, the assam tea was ok but the fake plastic trees and plants really put a damper. I suppose they don't have much choice since keeping live ones would be nearly impossible. Not sure what they can do with that lovely courtyard.
Ossie's jerk chicken was one of the better places that I visited. It can be a bit dry, in that case, go for the goat curry, it's lovely. I wish they were american size portions because I could have gone for 1 1/2 orders of it but not 2. That would be a bit much. They're behind Saisbury's on chapel market. Takeaway with stop at the off-license.
It will be difficult to get to all the places that I want to visit in London with the kids. Too much walking for her in 10 degree weather when we're used to driving everywhere in 28 degree weather. I suppose I needed to plan better to avoid those crazy treks. With all the museums being free of admission, we didn't make it to any of them. Well, the Wallace, but that was really brief. Sorry to ramble, but all in all we had a wonderful trip.

Tourists from LA said...

Sorry, to post twice. It said it was too long and not able to post but it posted anyway.

C K said...

@Tourists from LA,
Not a problem at all, Blogger gets cranky every now and then.

Back to your London trip. To be honest, other than some cafes that serve two quid burgers, I've not been to many eateries along Chapel Market. With that number of eating places in the area, I'm spoilt I guess. But goat (mutton) curry is something to be reckoned with. Hmm, don't see lots of that over here in London. Making a mental note to drop by.

Ah, pity about the spice though. There're quite a number of good Indian eats in the city. Masala Zone, which is just minutes from Hilton Islington isn't too bad either.

Love the Wallace Collection as well. Did you go for the free tour? The funny thing is that we chance upon it after wondering around from Oxford Street. To think that it's just behind Selfriges!

Anyway, hope to have you back again!

Tourists from LA said...

Maybe I'm setting myself up for some disappointment but I also want to try a traditional pie & mash shop, maybe even some eel. I'm amazed at how many kebab shops there are along Holloway Rd. I wonder if anyone's tried to do a 'search for best kebab in London' blog. That may be interesting.
There's one high/mid restaurant that I wanted to try but was just a bit tired of London sticker shock and decided to skip. Juniper Dining on Highbury Grove, seemed to be quite well reviewed.
No, I didn't take the free tour, maybe next time. I just browsed through the first hall while waiting to be seated.
I really want to visit a couple of times a year. Maybe when my kids are older and have some deeper savings. Meantime, I still plan to visit once a year.

Elsie Hui said...

I agree, this place was for tourists, but sadly, it's better than many places where I live in Canada!

karen said...

Looks goooood....Be careful with that knife dude – what a weapon!