This is perhaps the most secret cocktail bar I’ve ever visited, and I’ve seen my fair share of secret quirky bars.
££££ | Japanese Speakeasy Bar
Perfect For: Banging Cocktails | Date Night
Honestly, it really is. It’s a secret drinking den under a totally ordinary looking Japanese ramen restaurant in Piccadilly Circus.But descend down a narrow flight of stairs, through what looks like a basement door and all of a sudden you’re in this secret speak-easy drinking den. Where the hell did this come from?!
As I stepped into the lively restaurant and informed the welcoming host that I’m here for the bar, I wondered if I was in the right place. There was nothing to suggest that there is a drinking den in this cute restaurant. But as I was led down a narrow flight of stairs into what I thought was the basement, I was amazed to discover an intimate and chic bar oozing with speakeasy vibes.
Atmosphere and Decor
It’s not the biggest bar, but that’s cool with me as I sunk into the comfy brown leather sofa. It’s feels exclusive, the sort of bar what is only known to Londoner truly in the know. Looking around, I fell in love with the sophisticated interiors. Think exposed lightbulbs, lighting ornaments, and symmetrical hexagonal-shaped marble tabletops. The low-lit setting is perfect for intimate chats.
It’s not just the most secret cocktail bar in London, it’s also, to the best of my knowledge, the London’s only cocktail bar that offers an ‘Omakase’ drinking experience. Omakase, usually a Japanese dining concept, is when your food (or in this case, your tipple) is entirely chosen by the chef/bartender based on what you like.
The world “omakase” literally translating to ‘up to the chef’ in Japanese.
You get a welcome drink as well three bespoke cocktails that you, and only you, will ever get the pleasure to drink. Of course, you can get the classics and the favourites, but if you really want a memorable experience, Omakase is where it’s at.
Naturally, there isn’t a specific drink that I can recommend. Every cocktail was made bespoke made by my personal expert mixologist, Jun, and I couldn’t be more impressed by his friendly disposition, the way he personally visits you from the bar to ask what pleases your tastebuds, and his superior knowledge in the art of liquid concoction. Want something sweet, sure. Fancy something fiery? You got it. Nothing is off-limits and everything is beautifully presented. A true sign of a grandmaster in cocktails.
Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised that I couldn’t help but partake in a bit of fun and games. I wanted to really test the limit of Jun’s imagination. So, rather than give a description of my palettes preferred taste, I thought I’d get my mates on social to describe my personality, and ask Jun to create something based on my character.After relaying the info, I waited in anticipation with what magic was going to delight me at the end.
Obviously, it’s the libations that are the yardstick in determining a good cocktail from a ‘meh’ one, but as well sublime cocktails, I was unexpectedly pleased and surprised by how good the food was. Bar food is, to my mind, notoriously skimpy on quantity and ordinarily nothing more than a few roasted peanuts. Not here at Machiya. The chicken karaage was chunky, crispy, juicy golden nuggets of deep-fried goodness; the wafu fries were thick-cut, crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, nicely dusted with aonori seaweed seasoning; and the Padron peppers were smoky and sweet. By far the best bar snacks I’ve ever ordered and well worth ordering with the cocktails.
Machiya is exactly what I would imagine if a friend were to ask how I would picture a pad belonging to a cool, sophisticated Londoner with good taste. I felt at home here. Even if you’re flying solo, you’re never really alone. Plump yourself at the bar counter and meet Jun and Domenica who were excellent hosts and well up for a chat.
Machiya is a super-secret bar that only cool Londoners like you and I know about. Bring your mates, they will be mightily impressed and bow to your impressive knowledge of all the cool places in London.
Machiya Bar is a bit like visiting the tailors. Everything feels bespoke to you. No one will ever sip the same cocktail you had if you go for the Omakase experience. The experience is shaped around treating yourself once in a while, where everything is shaped for you, and you’ll be sad to go when you realise how much time had passed and it’s closing time.
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