A stone’s throw from Old Street station in Shoreditch, you’ll find Apothecary East, a stylish restaurant-bar serving Japanese-inspired sharing dishes. Now, as you will know, us lot at Secret London love to eat. When we discovered this spot on one of Shoreditch‘s quieter streets, we just had to take a visit.
As we entered Apothecary East, the team were wowed by just how large the space was – the venue seemed to extend back to the kitchen forever. As a table of 12, we’d expected to impose on the space a little, but there was no need to worry about that. We spotted a couple of other large groups, plus many smaller tables, and we existed in perfect harmony. The whole dining area felt very roomy, and there’s was distinct buzz about the place, without being too much.
Apothecary East, named in honour of the building’s heritage, boasts bright lights in the bar area, with indoor trees, and a more moody, sleek industrial feel in the main restaurant area. Light cascades in from a glass-roofed area, which come nighttime, gives an almost outside-in feel. These elements combine effortlessly to create a Tokyo vibe with a Shoreditch edge. Guests can dine in said main area, or rent out an exclusive private dining room downstairs.
The food – what were Secret London’s favourite Apothecary East dishes?
From the innovative flavours, to the dishes’ presentation, to the sheer amount of food; our team could not praise Apothecary East enough. The menu at this Japanese restaurant is inspired by traditional Tokyo small plates, and at Apothecary, sharing is encouraged.
While many of us on the team are carnivores with very different tastebuds, we all surprisingly agreed that the vegetarian offerings here are off the scale; some were the firm favourites of the night. As our Community Manager noted “sometimes I feel veggie dishes can get overlooked, but these were all really good.”
Our team’s top five favourite dishes were:
🤤 Black sesame cauliflower: Now, I usually find cauliflower pretty average, but I actually think this was one of my fave dishes of the night – high praise. It was crunchy, kind of salty, and went down really well. Our Staff Writer Intern loved the black sesame sauce so much that she was dipping every other dish into it too.
🤤 Miso aubergine: One of Apothecary’s signatures that you absolutely cannot miss if you visit. It was sweet and delicious, but still savoury. Our Executive Editor noted, “It’s easy to make bad aubergine; bloomin’ impressive when it’s done as well as this.”
🤤 Tuna dragon roll: Sushi fiends, unite. This dish was all about fab texture with an umami flavour. It’s light, with a satisfying crunch. For those reluctant when it comes to fish, the seafood flavour is subtle.
🤤 Truffle short rib: I was initially wary to try this one, as I’m not a fan of truffle at all. However, in one bite, this dish won me over. The truffle flavour is very mild – rather the miso flavour comes through – and the meat is melt-in-your-mouth soft.
🤤 Kakuni pork belly: Contrary to the short rib, the meat on these pork belly bites was crispy, salty, and super rich in flavour. Again, Apothecary came through with the satisfying textures.
We also had a selection of other dishes too:
🍽️ Warm edamame beans and lotus crisps: The Apothecary team bring you these to start; a great beginning to a meal at this Japanese restaurant. Despite all our grand proclamations, our team are simple folk and we all really loved the pickles served with this snack.
🍽️ Karaage fried chicken: Tasted just as good as it smelt, and had a great crunch.
🍽️ Yellowtail: Myself and our Community Manager particularly liked this one, as it was refreshing and tart.
🍽️ Roasted pepper dragon roll: I personally preferred the tuna option, but it was a hit with our veggie team member.
🍽️ Pork shogayaki: Pork belly in a different way to the kakuni style; this was super tender, and would go well with rice.
🍽️ Sweet potato: If you have a sweet tooth, go for these. The sweet glaze made the dish glisten and I kept reaching back with my chopsticks for more.
🍽️ Nori fries: These were an acquired taste and divided our team; if you’re not a seafood lover, it’s best to avoid, but they’re very moreish if you’re a fan of fish.
🍽️ Wagyu beef tartare roll: The beef in this was soooo soft, I almost pulled it out of the roll to eat it on its own. However, as a combined mouthful, it hides a surprise: wasabi! You have been warned.
🍽️ Avocado cucumber roll: An inoffensive dish that worked really well as a palette cleanser between all the other innovative flavours.
As for the dessert, 11 out of 12 of us voted the matcha tiramisu supreme (soz to one of our videographers). Our Executive Editor called it “unreal”; it was silky smooth and sweet, the matcha wasn’t overpowering, and the coffee crumble added a satisfying texture.
If you fancy something a little different, try the dark chocolate and sesame mousse. It is an acquired taste – a more savoury dessert. Alternatively, a more traditional sweet option is the passionfruit custard.
To devour all that food required some prep, and Apothecary East recommended this in the form of a sake bomb. Organising our team to time it right was a whole ordeal, but so much fun. The team at Apothecary East will provide you with a guided beer mat upon your visit, but to give you an overview, effectively you balance sake above beer with your chopsticks and bang on the table so it falls in…
Alongside this jovial drinking activity, Apothecary East boasts a drinks menu of specialist house-mixed cocktails, and they are unrivalled. All the drinks we ordered were pretty – and pretty tasty.
Our top picks for drinks were:
🍹Tsuari Margarita: This spicy margarita was lip-tinglingly good, and was the most ordered drink by our group. With a half spicy rim, you can opt to enjoy the classic margarita taste on its own, or instead gulp down with the fiery chilli salt for a real kick.
🍹Coconut Martini: Our team noted that this looked like the grown up version of the spicy marg, with an almost mirrored effect on the liquor, and the coconut rim. This drink was strong, but not excessively potent, thanks to the sweetness of the coconut. A sipping cocktail for sure.
🍹Strawberry Solstice: This drink is rather sweet, pared back only by the addition of the pisco. This is one for summer, or for when you need a taste of summer as the months get colder…
🍹Okinawa Daiquiri: I drank this cocktail the quickest out of all my drinks, as it was so delicious. A fabulous concoction of mango, pineapple, vanilla, and rum, it tasted like a fruit punch.
For those not a fan of cocktails, the beer list was favoured by some of our team, while many other spirits, wines, and sakes grace the drinks menu.
All in all, not one of our team members could fault our visit to Apothecary East; the food at this Japanese restaurant was plentiful, the service was warm and friendly, and the venue was welcoming. While we came as a large group, I’d say this restaurant is suitable for a plethora of group types: dates, celebrations, one-on-one catch ups. It has the vibe of a bar, but the kitchen credentials of a top tier restaurant.