With the mysterious name of ‘Nippon Inn’, for those unknown with the Japanese language, this quirky restaurant literally translates as ‘the state of Japan’. Unsurprisingly, no less, the Nippon Inn is Charminster’s answer to providing curious students with authentic Japanese cuisine. Nestled among the random cluster of restaurants and bars on Charminster Road, the Nippon Inn reeks Japanese style and culture with its Izakaya-style layout (cafe/restaurant/bar service) and subsequently embracing authentic on-the-floor seating, as well as table service and bar stools.
The first impression once entering the cosy establishment is sophisticated and authentic with linear black panelled décor, and beautiful Japanese photos and ornaments posted around the room. Looking around we saw that the majority of tables were filled with kooky couples and small groups of friends, enjoying the sweet flavours of Japan.
The menu is select but exciting. The modern Japanese-eating-style involves the sharing dishes around the table, and the menu caters for exactly that. They provide an impressive selection of sushi as well as heartier meat, fish and vegetarian dishes such as the typical ‘katsu curry’ and ‘yakisoba’.
The staff were attentive and the waitress was happy to help us make a decision on what to order, after admitting our ignorance on the typical dinner-style-culture. In the end after much deliberation, we chose the chef’s selection of nigiri; a miso-soup each; edamame beans; pork katsu curry and a portion of sticky ginger tofu.
The food came out quickly and at different times, which suited our ravenous hunger and gave us the comfort that the dishes were being made fresh to order. The presentation was neat and sophisticated and almost stopped us from greedily tucking in. The chef’s nigiri involved 2 pieces each of salmon, mackerel, chicken, tuna-mayo and raw tuna on a small cradle of sticky rice.
It was easy to tell the fish was fresh and the rice was perfectly fluffy and sweet. The miso soup was a small bowl full of warmth and spice which perfectly complemented the flavours and soft textures from the other dishes we had. The sticky ginger tofu was interesting as well, although coated in a sticky-ginger-jelly-like marinade, the tofu was soft and gooey which maybe didn’t appeal to my taste-buds as much as I expected. The edamame and pork-katsu were both incredibly pleasing and disproved our doubts that we hadn’t made the right choices.
Although the size of the dishes may have appeared small when first bought out, we found that we easily had ordered enough, and then still had some left over by the end of the evening. Despite the temptation of ice cream in the exotic flavours including green-tea or wasabi, we found our full but satisfied appetites couldn’t quite handle any more, giving us the excuse to return and test out the deserts and Japanese drinks on another occasion.
The bill between the two of us for our delicious mini-banquet ended up at £26 which we thought was very impressive for the amount and quality of what we were given. For anyone willing to try out some Japanese culture. We gave Nippon Inn 4 out of 5 rating and, we recommend a visit.
Edited by Natalie Whitmore