Tokyo Diner is a busy little restaurant close to Leicester Square that has been serving up cheap, satisfying, hot and cold Japanese food since 1992. They pride themselves on the authenticity of the food, decor and service: all the staff speak Japanese. It’s like a little island of Japan in the middle of London. Meals start at £6.
Richard Hills set up Tokyo Diner in his own home. He studied Japanese as a hobby in the mid 1980’s and used to go to Japanese restaurants in London so that he could practice the language. But frankly the food was neither easy nor satisfying to eat, the hushed atmosphere in those restaurants was like going into a temple, and the prices were extortionate: he worried about having to eat that food every day when he went to Japan. But when he eventually got there, what a difference: everywhere he went there were dozens of cheerful little places serving delicious, filling meals, no dearer than the supermarkets. Despite knowing nothing about catering, he decided to turn his home into a place that would serve the real thing: affordable, satisfying and fun.
That little project kept him busy for twenty years and then he felt he had time for something else. He first saw swing dancing in 2014 – and you can probably guess the rest of the story! Tokyo Diner rushed to be the first to sponsor the Solo Jazz and Charleston competition because of Richard’s strong belief that you cannot really call yourself a dancer until you can dance on your own.