Humble Chicken 2.0 | Out with the yakitori, in with the omakase…
Humble Chicken has changed.
It’s still humble, don’t worry (at least by name), but considering the level of success the Soho yakitori spot has had since it entered the fray in 2021, you can’t fault owner Angelo Sato for upping the stakes from the restaurant’s original modest ambitions.
Chef Sato isn’t one to play it safe: having moved from Tokyo to London at the age of just 17, he first got his break here at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay under then-head chef Clare Smyth, and then went on to become head chef himself at Tom Sellers’ Restaurant Story. Now he’s made the brave decision to completely revamp his first solo restaurant on Frith Street. Not that it needed revamping… the general consensus was that Humble Chicken might have been one of the best yakitori restaurants in London, showcasing the anatomy of the chicken, from tip to tail, in the most appetising of ways. But, as a highly ambitious chef, with the talent to go with, Sato has decided it’s time to steer the ship in a new direction.
The old a la carte yakitori menu is no more, and in its place stands a no-choice omakase-style menu where you’ll get 12 or so dishes – all wildly different from one another, but equally special, memorable and a talking point in its own right. There’s 18 diners per seating (two seatings a night, one at 6pm and the other from 8pm), and you all sit up around a granite marble counter together, with the action taking place before your eyes from an open kitchen as the evening ebbs and flows.
At £115, the new menu is treading a fine line into, well, fine dining, but to keep Humble Chicken 2.0 on the right side of fun, Sato’s implemented loads of neat little touches. You’ll rest your chopsticks on a cute ceramic chicken; you’ll choose your own from an assortment of sake cups (if sake is what you fancy); and the soundtrack veers from Coldplay at one moment to Abba the next. Sato’s just letting you know that ‘even with the change, we still don’t take ourselves too seriously here’. In saying that, he’s not messing about either. You get hit with the good stuff from the get go…
Dish number one is a mussel beautifully encased with avocado and citrus kosho ponzu. It’s great to look at and goes down in a hurry. Next you’re met with a miso-cured foie gras tart covered in almond brittle. That gets cleaned up in a single indelible bite as well. You’ll want one more, but the following dish immediately steals the attention – a ‘little piggy’ bao bun that’s layered with a fried quail egg, karashi mustard and pig’s trotter. The final snack is then shokupan (the super fluffy Japanese milk bread) and butter, with the latter lotion-like, silky smooth and scaled with chicken parfait. Seafood is the theme in the middle (shime saba, aka mackerel sashimi, with cucumber and shiso gazpacho – a highlight) and every dish is as intriguing as the next. The whole experience lasts for over two hours, so there’s no frenetic rush to the tempo. You’ll just sit back and let Sato and his team entertain you.
The ‘heavier stuff’, meanwhile, includes an angus short rib topped with a crisp-coated egg that you’re encouraged to break so it oozes out onto the meat, and the last savoury dish of the night: a donabe rice pot with fried chicken achilles (an ode to Humble Chicken’s previous iteration, which they save for last). Thankfully, while adequately sized, these dishes aren’t heavy enough to make it a struggle to leave your stool, especially with a trio of desserts still to come (which, on our trip, featured a deconstructed citrus cheesecake, coated with gratings of frozen clementine).
To drink, there’s a page of wines, including a white from Japan. There’s also cocktails, including a maple highball and a watermelon Negroni. But you really ought to plump for the sake, for which the staff will guide you in the correct direction for pairing purposes (though the choice of cup is all yours). We could go on, as there’s just so much to decipher, but Humble Chicken’s new revamp is definitely a bold move that’s paid off.
In our humble opinion…
NOTE: Humble Chicken 2.0 is open from Weds-Sat. There are two sittings per night – you can find out more, and book, HERE.
Humble Chicken 2.0 | 54 Frith St, London W1D 4SJ
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