Islington restaurant JIJI launched a new menu featuring Kushiyaki skewers, plenty of sushi, grills, vegetarian dishes and mocktails.

Are you dieting, or following any sort of restrictions on unhealthy habits? I know I’ am whenever I can, at least between delicious dining out.

The chances are that like you also get random cravings and you have to make crucial decisions on those precious days.

I’m referring to those cheat days when you just can’t decide what to have – Mexican or grass fed juicy burger? Japanese or Middle Eastern? The choice is endless, yet there is only so much one can eat.

Obviously, eating in the canteen, or worldwide buffet offering everything, just won’t do the trick. So for those occasions I like to go to fusion restaurants, or better find two cuisines under roof.

That what JIJI is, it blends Middle Eastern and Japanese flavours under one roof. It is not fusion though, as the ingredients from different destinations are not fused into one dish. Rather it’s a venue that offers two cuisines on one menu.

JIJI is an Islington based restaurant and it fits well with the vibe of slightly quirky and creative venues in the area.

It has a bit of a 70s retro look with dark wood, rounded pink lighting and sleek metal accents. The walls are finished with colour block portraits in eclectic or even kitsch style perhaps?

green fog cocktail jiji restaurant

It’s the creation of restaurateur, Janina Wolkow, founder of a contemporary Japanese restaurant Sumosan, with outposts worldwide. Her inspiration for JIJI has drawn its influences from the innovative capitals of Tel Aviv and Tokyo to create a truly unique combination of dishes.

In Tel Aviv, chefs combine unusual flavours with creative flair of raw fish dishes, and clean, fresh palates which led Janina to the conclusion that a combination of Japanese dishes alongside Levantine cuisine could really work.

Of course we had to see it for ourselves. We started with an amazing plate of everything tuna: the chu-toro nigiri (fatted belly of tuna), classic spicy tuna rolls and sesame yellowtail, almonds and fish roe rolls.

The deep red of chu-toro nigiri was eyeing me or I was eyeing it, so that was my first dish, which was simply perfect.

From its balanced marinated fluffy sushi rice to just the right sized tuna slice on top. It was a chef’s masterpiece with a credit given to the tuna too of course, as it did the swimming and eating to get this flavoursome.

My other favourite was sesame yellowtail roll, almonds inside the roll added a satisfying crunch to the sushi texture. As a keen raw to cured fish to sushi devotee perhaps even an addict I value three main aspects.

The freshness of the fish, rice texture and flavour – not overdosed on rice vinegar and the balance of the filling vs rice. It’s important to get the measurements just right, quite a few establishments tend to fail here.

In case of JIJI the chef nailed it, all the sushi had a good balance of filling and size at reasonable price too. I find Japanese restaurants in the UK do tend to be on the higher price end.

rocky road jiji restaurant

While JIJI does not exactly serve the rolls at prices of the sushi in Tokyo metro, no London venue does, it’s reasonable at 14 pounds for six.

From Japan to the Middle East, we then sampled prawn croquettes, which were gigantic and only £7.50, packed with flavour inside and very creamy with a great crisp coating.

Our mains were miso marinated black cod, which was prepared well with that flaky texture. And honey soy marinated hanger steak.

It was incredibly delectable, almost gamey even but not heavy. If I didn’t know I would have thought it was venison. The smoked aubergine paste with crisp artichokes provided a surprisingly satisfying round up on the dish.

Last but not least was light yet fruity – a trendy looking cocktail Green Fog with Hendricks, cucumber and elderflower, featuring a striking identical portrait from the wall artwork.

We concluded our dine with two very different desserts deconstructed rich rocky road, which was noteworthy both on flavour and presentation, see the picture. And a light rose scented vegan coconut panna cotta called Malabi.

If you are in the neighbourhood or just in Central London give JIJI a visit. It’s a great restaurant with interesting food concept, great staff and plenty wines, cocktails and mocktails. 

JIJI, 6g Esther Anne Pl, London N1 1WL