A few years back my middle son spent a couple of weeks travelling by train around Japan – so when he suggested a birthday meal out at a Japanese restaurant, I wanted to find somewhere authentic.

Momiji in Harleston is run by a husband-and-wife team with Taka, from Japan, cooking and his wife running front of house. An island close to Taka’s hometown is famous for its Momiji, or maple, trees.

They launched their first Harleston restaurant 20 years ago and have been in their current premises since 2016, but we had never visited.

What an omission!

Momiji offers casual Japanese food so it’s not normally sushi and sashimi, although it does hold regular sushi nights. Instead, its menu is based on a Japanese version of tapas. Dishes can be sharing plates or ordered individually

“Casual Japanese” turns out to be absolutely delicious and very good value too.

There were four of us – in a family combination of mum, dad, daughter and son which had possibly not been seen since our third child arrived more than 20 years ago. “The original family,” the older two considered messaging the absent youngest.

He’s in London, so not starved of exotic eateries, but Momijis would be an asset anywhere.

Great British Life: Vegetable gyouza at Momiji, Harleston.Vegetable gyouza at Momiji, Harleston. (Image: Rowan Mantell)

We began with spicy chicken wings and vegetable gyouza (hand-made stuffed dumplings served with dipping sauce). The delicate dumplings were wonderful, somehow both air-light and satisfying substantial.

They were very prettily presented – as were a lot of the dishes.

I went on to veggie tempura with sweet chilli dipping sauce. I’m fond of vegetables anyway but coating them in crispy batter takes them to a whole new level of deliciousness. My husband very much enjoyed his spicy king prawn yaki soba stir fry noodles – showing off some fine chopstick skills with the edamame beans. However, this is a relaxed and friendly place, with the staff chatty and helpful, western cutlery brought with chopsticks, and no-one judging stick technique, or lack thereof.

The birthday boy had teriyaki salmon and big sister had katsu curry with rice – again both dishes were pronounced excellent and polished off. Hopefully Japan is not one of the cultures where it is polite to leave a bit of food on your plate, as we loved everything.

The boys drank Japanese kirin ichiban beer while I had the house saki, having developed a taste for the rice wine when our Japanese traveller brought some back with him.

I have a feeling that our meal was more authentic than most of what he ate in Japan.


Our review visits are unannounced, and we pay for our meals.