Oka (Kingly Court): where Japanese was just okay

I have phenomenal love for Japanese food (particularly sashimi and sushi); I can absolutely have it on a daily basis without tiring. London hosts some pretty good Japanese restaurants (Dinings, Roka, Atariya, etc) although admittedly even the best of the best can take room for improvement. We have a splattering of decent enough joints to satisfy cravings but there are a few places that have put me off, too. Nothing like bad sushi to leave a bad taste on your palate, non?
(Source: Oka)
Anyway. I recently tried Oka in Kingly Court (they have another branch in Primrose Hill). The space is quite tiny but the decor is cute and reminds me of an old-meets-new type of place with its bold red window paneling and #ihavethisthingwithfloors-worthy flooring. This reflects the restaurant’s philosophy of putting a modern twist on Pan-Asian and sushi cuisine favourites. 

The tuna (£7.50) and salmon (£6.80) sashimi came in at five pieces each and for the price you pay that’s quite a good deal. However, the fish was just average and I found the tuna a bit too cold for my liking, leaving a not so nice after-taste.

The chicken karaage (£5.95) came aplenty. Balls of deep fried breaded chicken served with a “spicy ketchup” (not) and I was rather surprised at how big they are. They were quite pleasant – seasoned nicely and juicy to the bite with a good crunchy coating. I actually prefer this than Shoryu’s karaage. A good start.

There was a lot of the bulgogi beef fillet too and for £8.50 that’s quite a bargain. I liked the spicy sauce as it had a proper kick but would have preferred the beef to be a little more on the pink side. At least it wasn’t overcooked, I guess.

Some grilled asparagus (£3.95) had to be ordered for our five-a-day quota. The veg was cooked nicely but I wish they didn’t drizzle so much sauce. It would’ve gone better without it, to be honest.

The miso black cod (£19.50) was… average. Nothing wrong with how the fish was cooked but I found the sauce a bit too sweet. Roka’s black cod still holds supreme.

Overall, I thought Oka was just okay, if not subpar. Save for the karaage, nothing much stood out for me from the dishes we selected. Fair enough, perhaps these dishes aren’t enough to judge the place on (maybe the sushi rolls fare better?) but frankly I was quite disappointed. Service was okay if not a bit abrupt but what really put me off were the flies floating about by this lamp/light by the bar. I was sat under it, and my peer only pointed this out after dining. #shudder.

There are places in London that have better Japanese food but I’m not going to complain about how cheap our bill came down to considering the portions were relatively generous. However, it made me realise that Japanese cuisine is so simple yet so sophisticated and it takes time and finesse to get it right. You may have to pay high end prices to get premium fare but hey – quality trumps quantity all the time.

1/F Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, London, W1B
Oka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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  1. 14th October 2015 / 9:40 am

    I totally agreed with you, I like Oka but it didn't blow my mind – though at those prices your not expecting Roka quality. It's just a cute little place.
    Lots of love,
    SilverSpoon London

    • 14th October 2015 / 10:19 am

      True, Angie! I love Dinings and Roka and could eat there everyday! x

  2. 14th October 2015 / 10:25 am

    Urgh. Fruit flies are my nemesis and also massively put me off a restaurant/bar/anywhere.

    • 14th October 2015 / 11:50 am

      Mine too – such a shame as I love sitting by the counter/bar at restaurants.Hope all's well, Flick! x

  3. 14th October 2015 / 10:45 am

    Ah no, I haven't been to Oka but don't think I'll be going from what I've heard about it :/ I'll stick to Roka, Sake no Hana, and E&O for awesome Japanese food!

    C x | Lux Life

    • 14th October 2015 / 11:48 am

      Haha, word of mouth has such power! I've been meaning to try E&O – will read reviews of that then! x

  4. 14th October 2015 / 11:08 am

    Well said – it's good for the price but nothing spectacular. Wish we'd tried the karaage now! Lots of lobr, Andrea xxx

    Andrea's Passions

    • 14th October 2015 / 11:38 am

      Lots of lobr… Andrea are you thinking of lobster right now?! Haha! x

  5. 14th October 2015 / 4:23 pm

    As a non-fishy person, it never ceases to amaze me how far people are willing to travel around London to find the perfect sushi restaurant. I guess if you love it, you really love it!

    • 15th October 2015 / 8:33 am

      Or all over the world! On my bucket list is a trip to Japan's famous tsujiki market where the slimes and grimes of the fish world await! =D x

  6. 15th October 2015 / 1:31 pm

    Interesting, I was just looking at this place the other night when I was at Senor Ceviche. Maybe not worth a trip then.

    • 15th October 2015 / 4:16 pm

      I honestly wouldn't go back in the foreseeable future. Not because it's bad – it was just average and there are better average Japanese restaurants around town.

  7. 16th October 2015 / 4:56 pm

    Congratulations on your nomination Honey! I like the idea of Jerusalem artichoke chopsticks, hopefully they have other chopsticks for when you've eaten those ;-0

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  8. 21st February 2016 / 10:01 am

    So I went to Oka yesterday with a couple of reservations and have to say I really enjoyed it. The karage chicken was soooo good, and sashimi and sushi rolls fresh (although we didn't try the tuna). But I wasn't impressed with their robata offering of sea bream. It was super bland despite being served with kimchi and just a bit unpleasant. Think you're right about the grill. Also no flies in sight!

    • 21st February 2016 / 10:20 am

      I am so pleased to hear there weren't flies in sight! Haha! The karaage was the standout dish for me. I may give this another go 🙂