1 | Japanese Sharing Grub: Yumi (above)
Izakayas are all the rage, dontcha know? They are sort of Japanese gastropubs which serve drinks and sharing plates of food that includes lots of things on sticks. And lurking quietly on Shaftesbury Avenue is the newly open Yumi, run by Casper von Hofmannsthal, a Londoner who has previously managed such Esquire haunts as Quo Vadis. He first tested out this restaurant as a pop-up in Cambodia and, after that hugely successful turn, has set up shop back home.
Order as many small plates as you can stomach – they are all moreishly tasty and will no sooner have hit the table than been demolished. The larger caramelized pork belly with tempura'ed egg is rich and sticky, but the real showstopper is the "Okonomiyaki Osaka Style": perhaps the most traditional Japanese thing on the menu, it is an umami-flavoured frittata that comes with a special type of shaved fermented tuna on top which reacts to the heat by twisting, curling and undulating in front of your very eyes – it's like your food is alive! Team with the zingy yuzu sake.
67 Shaftsebury Avenue, London, W1D 6EX; yumirestaurants.com
2 | Toast St. George In Trafalgar Square
This Saturday is St George's Day, and there are corresponding festivities taking place in Trafalgar Square with food and drinks and music and performers and a bandstand and all manner of jollity. With a Shakespearean theme weaved throughout the day, the cooks' corner is the bit you'll want, with Ed Baines and former Masterchef winner Natalie Coleman in action throughout the afternoon.
But if it all gets a little too much for you, then head round the corner and down Northumberland Avenue, to the new Boyds Grill and Wine Bar (which we informed you about last week, in case you were listening). Amidst their genuinely novel ice cream bar, the chef will offer you tiny little meringues frozen with liquid nitrogen; when you pop them in your mouth, you will be breathing just like those dragons St George took to task. Total gimmick, but it gets a laugh (and tastes unexpectedly good too).
3 | Brunch In Aid Of The London Marathon: Village East
Chances are you know at least one crazy person taking part in Sunday's London Marathon. Even if you're not duty-bound to watch the race, it is rather a fun spectacle to witness anyhow. But to bear the crowds, and not get hungry at the mere sight of such physical exertion, you need a hearty breakfast to pep you up. Head to Village East in Bermondsey, where their bacon sandwich (with avocado and chilli jam) is a reason to get up on a Sunday. Ditto the Reuben sandwich: salt beef, sauerkraut and Emmental with gherkin and thousand island dressing. Once full, you're in the perfect place to watch the running as the stretch between Bermondsey and Canada Water is by far the easiest to spot people in (Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays especially). Banners at the ready.
171 - 172 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UW; villageeast.co.uk
4 | Sample Parisian Cocktails: Little Red Door at Callooh Callay
Little Red Door is a super cool basement bar in the even cooler Marais district of Paris, which has the feel of a New York speakeasy. It frequently wins awards and is a must-visit if you're crossing The Channel. But, to save you the cost of the Eurostar, Remy Savage and his team are showcasing their new menu at Shoreditch's equally exalted Callooh Callay, in their Jubjub Bar (which houses a new bartender and, therefore menu, each month).
The "Evocative Menu" is on offer now through until Sunday, and is designed to stimulate feelings alongside flavours by arousing various senses at once; you choose your drinks by "unique artistic impressions" as opposed to names or descriptions. Sounds a bit much? Well these guys seriously know their stuff, and they're not over here all that often, so wipe that smirk off your face and go give it a try – while you can.
5 | Experience a taste of Japan: ROKA
Over in Japan they're currently in the midst of Sakura – cherry blossom season – a spiritual time of national celebration. To celebrate, a new installation at Fitzrovia's best-loved Japanese restaurant ROKA is also offering a spiritual time, and we're not entirely talking about flowers.
ROKA has paired up with Suntory whiskey to create three delicious new cocktails that accompanies their ever-excellent food (the pick of the bunch is Happo Harmony, a rhubarb and ginger concoction topped with cared ice that manages to be both sweet and spicy). Cherry blossom does indeed hang overhead transforming the downstairs bar into an even more intimate setting than before, but it's the inventive tipples and those small plates (order the Hokkaido snow crab without hesitation) that reasserts ROKA's position at the top of Fitzrovia's increasingly strong dining game.