Of all the multitude of delicious ways to serve rice, by far the best is to drink it.
And now Covent Garden is one of the best places in London to do that, thanks to Moto, a new sake joint which touts itself as “the UK’s first independent Japanese beverage bar & shop”. And given that it’s wholly independent, it’s no surprise that it’s small – a slender sleeve of a space that’s inviting, and charmingly warm, thanks to a Japanese-style pale wood bar, simple banquette seating, and the dozens of colourful sake bottles lining the shelves. There’s even a little ‘take me home’ fridge full of bottles at the back.
The place itself is named after the fermentation starter used in the more traditional sake breweries, which it tends to lean on in the menu. They’ve got craft sakes, rare bottles, vintages, and dozens of popular brands too, many of them sourced directly from the breweries themselves. Then there are the other Japanese drinks, of which there are plenty too; from shochu, to Japanese gin, whisky, and even absinthe.
If you’re not a seasoned sake drinker, then you’ll be happy to know that the menu breaks them down into simple flavour profiles: light, aromatic, rich, earthy, hot, sparkling, etc. You can mix them up and contrast them in a flight, grab a carafe, or just get a simple serve. And they’re reasonably priced too, with most glasses coming in at a fiver.
The cocktails are all house originals, all interesting, and occasionally come with some verbosely memorable names – A Japanese Female Bartender Taught Me This Secret, for instance, includes sake and cassis; the slightly punchier Shochu & Morphine blends sweet potato shochu with coconut; and the rich Ocean Martini includes gin, vermouth, and miso.
There are a few Japanese-style bar bites too of course, including the likes of a nekomanma (a warm bed of rice topped with soy-cured yolk and bonito tuna flakes); some simple grilled miso salmon, and a light tempura-fried chicken karaage, which is naturally battered with sake.
Just make sure you aren’t too.
NOTE: Moto is open Tuesday-Sunday, 12pm-late, and is walk-in only. You can find out more on their website right HERE.
Moto | 7 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA
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