Unless it’s select pieces of sushi that haven’t been doused in soy sauce, you could be forgiven for thinking that Japanese cuisine is pretty much off the cards for us coeliacs. Fortunately, Bincho Yakitori in Brighton is not only here to dispel such talk, but offer some of the most fresh and delicious cuisine I’ve enjoyed in an incredibly long time.
With friendly, accommodating staff and a small, dark interior that’s reflective of traditional yakitori eateries, the tone is set immediately for a truly authentic experience. My boyfriend and I sat at the counter as opposed to a table – which allowed us to see the food being created right in front of us and the chefs working with enviable deftness (plus it meant that when our plates were ready they were handed directly to us rather than sat cooling on a counter as we waited for a waitress to bring them over).
Think of Bincho as a Japanese tapas restaurant – you order lots of smaller plates rather than one big one – and most of the items are grilled and served on skewers. However, whereas tapas can usually equal tiny portions at extortionate prices, this is far from the case here; portions are a really decent size (two skewers per plate) and average around £3.20 each. Gluten free items aren’t indicated on the menu, but the staff are easily able to mark up which are suitable for coeliacs (around 65-70% of dishes), plus they have gluten free beer on offer as well.
We tucked into a pot of edamame to start, which were served hot (way better than cold) and sprinkled with granules of sea salt – they tasted fantastic and had the perfect amount of bite. We weren’t sure how many plates to order, so started off with pork belly, chicken and spring onion, and salmon for a nice variety. The pork belly was cooked to perfection, with a crisp exterior and softer meat in the middle (nb: no nasty cheap fat here), and the chicken was equally impressive, with the slices of spring onion sandwiched in between the poultry chunks providing a nice change in texture and taste.
However, for me the standout was the salmon. Anything I type here won’t do it enough justice, but the slices were thick, succulent to the point where they melted in your mouth and bursting with flavour – don’t even get me started on the moreishly crispy grilled skin running down the edge. I was so impressed that I promptly ordered another plate, while my boyfriend was so taken with the pork belly that he quickly devoured another duo of skewers of this, too. Alongside our skewers we had grilled aubergine, the tops of which had been liberally covered with a flavourful miso butter; we also wanted to try the delectable-looking charred sweet potato, but by this point we were stuffed.
I couldn’t have been more surprised when the bill came – the whole thing (including two drinks totaling nearly £9) came to only £35. I honestly can’t recall a time that I had such delectable, fresh food in a fantastic atmosphere for so little money. There’s still so many gluten free items on the menu that I want to try (as well as eating more of that amazing salmon) that I cannot wait to return, and I almost feel conflicted about writing this review as I want Bincho to remain a wonderful secret that I can still manage to get a table (preferably at the counter) at. Alas, it’s too good not to shout from the rooftops about – so get there ASAP to experience this little gem for yourself.