Vying for the title of Warsaw’s smallest restaurant, Japonki will leave you wowed…
There’s a saying in English that “three’s a crowd”. In Japonki, that’s actually true. Seating just three people (“we’ll squeeze in four if you all know each other,” laughs the chef), the dimensions are so tight that diners find themselves practically on top of the staff – literally.
Perched on a narrow bench, eating is done looking right down onto the sushi staff working in a space below that can’t be much bigger than a bathtub. Lean a little forward, and you’re almost able to tap them on the head with a chopstick.
Given their previous guise, that is all something of a comedown. Japonki, you may remember, became a foodie buzzword when they first launched in Browary in 2021.
Pushing a look that was casual but cool, there it was all dappled terrazzo flooring, high-gloss shades of midnight black, and intricate red shelving stacked like a cat’s cradle. Shining through it all, a magenta neon to underscore the pre-club vibe. No arguments about it, it was the most fashionable sushi haunt in town.
Soaring costs made that location unviable, but rather than wave the white flag, the Japonki team moved across town to settle on Lwowska. Downsizing drastically, so tiny is the current location that you’re likely to miss it if you blink. And with no sign outside, that’s not the exaggeration it may at first seem.
But is any of that a bad thing? Absolutely not. As on-trend as the previous address was, it smacked of artifice. Moreover, it’s size and look made it feel a little impersonal.
Here, on Lwowska, the intimate dimensions dictate that by the time you leave, you know everyone there. That’s a helluva’ nice feeling. Moreover, the private and undiscovered nature of Japonki reminds you of the kind of secret little sushi spots that Antony Bourdain would seek on his jaunts to the backstreets of Japan.
Wood-clad, and with a few strips of neon angled around the counter, there’s not much to the design (and what there is, is hidden under a mountain of takeaway boxes), but it doesn’t need much more.
So yes, we approve of the look, but it’s the food that’s the winner. The fish that glisten at you are the best available, and they’re chopped with finesse before meticulously placed on short-grained rice blended with a selection of Japanese vinegars.
Served with smoky ponzu jelly, our nigiri box was faultless in every respect. As unusual as it might look when compared to Warsaw’s other Japanese choices, Japonki is without fail the among the market leaders in terms of tastes, atmosphere, and overall greatness. Though perhaps aimed more as a takeout / delivery spot, this should by no means deter you from visiting.
Lwowska 9, japonkisushi.pl