Old Compton Street is like the Bosphorus, it's a meeting point, a crossroads, a bit like Istanbul without the big mosque and it has seen an equal share of vice, iniquity and violence as well as Greeks, Jews, Turks and Italians. Chinatown spills over from the south and trendoid digital, facilities house Soho and old school, strip joint Soho, jockey for position amongst the gay bars and scattered remnants of Little Italy. Friday night in Soho in full flight is a hilarious melting pot of bemused tourists, terrified out of towners leaving Mammia Mia at the Prince of Wales Theatre, crack dealers, drunk agency account managers and gay clubbers. Here, opposite the bright lights of Ed's Easy Diner is yakitori and kushiyaki restaurant Bincho. A tiny oasis of near calm in the river of noise and Friday nights in full swing and a favourite of mine after a few.
The slightly Tardis like restaurant is over two floors but I've never made it past the bar seats that run alongside the grills. I love the smell of the fire, watching the guys delicately manage the burning bincho charcoal and turning the skewers with all the concentration of watchmakers. The staff are young with PDA's strapped to their wrists for ordering and exciting hair in an Anime kind of way. It's overpriced, sure, but I'm rarely in there in a thrifty state of mind. The food is good fun and on the whole delicious. Grilled unagi is marshmallow soft and meltingly fishy, the kushiyaki of pork belly and beef rib are perfect with a beer and the crunchy skewered asparagus, a fresh little kick in the haze of wood smoke.