Kibou: A Japanese Haven in the Heart of Cheltenham

I am a total sucker for sushi and Japanese food. Since Covid quashed my plans to visit this intriguing country in 2020 and 2021 (I bought a house in 2022 so Japan is once again a distant hope for me) I make do with eating the cuisine as often as possible.

Located in the heart of the Spa Town, Kibou Cheltenham is a Japanese restaurant that started as a tiny basement eatery. With five locations now across England, this contemporary Japanese restaurant offers cherry blossoms, a spacious bar, and ample seating. Boasting multiple awards, including the 2021 Restaurant of the Year at the SoGlos Lifestyle Awards, Kibou Cheltenham promises a vibrant dining experience that showcases the best of Japanese cuisine.

Upon entering Kibou Cheltenham, guests are greeted by a beautifully decorated space that includes a vibrant private dining area, a well-stocked bar, and a spacious restaurant. The menu at Kibou Cheltenham is extensive and diverse, featuring the freshest handmade sushi and sashimi, steaming bowls of ramen, crisp tempura, and pillowy bao buns, among other mouthwatering options.

What we ate

To start our dining experience, we began with a round of Kirin Ichiban as we perused the menu. As I was dining as part of a work event, we opted to share a variety of dishes. Some of the highlights included:

Chicken Karaage: Tender chicken thigh marinated in soy, ginger, and garlic, fried to perfection, and served with sriracha mayo.

Kabocha Korokke: Crispy pumpkin croquettes topped with tonkatsu sauce, sriracha mayo, and aonoris.

Ika Furai: Japanese 7-spice fried squid accompanied by sriracha mayo, providing a satisfying crunch and a hint of spice.

We also shared three different types of bao buns; duck with teriyaki, chicken karaage with sriracha mayo. and dynamite prawns, coated in miso sweet chili sauce. The bao were a standout dish, offering a generous portion of pillowy softness with a flavorful filling. We also opted for Chashu Yakitori (a personal favourite) 2 pork belly & spring onion skewers in an umami-rich butadon glaze, with homemade pickles.

Other notable dishes included the Pork Gyoza, handmade dumplings filled with lightly spiced pork mince, and the Takoyaki, Osaka street food batter balls with a small piece of octopus in the center. While the squishy texture of the Takoyaki may not have been a personal favorite, it provided an interesting and unique experience. The Chashu Kushiyaki; pork belly and spring onion skewers in an umami-rich glaze, were another firm favourite of mine.

For sushi enthusiasts, the Mixed Sushi Platter, Tokujo Moriawase, offered a premium selection of signature sushi and sashimi, hand-picked by the chef. The platter including salmon and tuna sashimi, ebi hosomaki, beef nigiri, dynamite prawn, and avocado and cucumber uramaki.

We also ordered the spider roll, with soft shell cram and gyu-niku, an inside out roll with mango, avocado and cucumber roll topped with sirloin of beef.

Final Thoughts… run don’t walk!

Kibou Cheltenham is a Japanese restaurant that truly excels in providing a phenomenal dining experience. With its perfect service, relaxed atmosphere, and a menu that caters to diverse tastes, it is no wonder that I have been time and time again. Whether you are a sushi lover, a ramen enthusiast, or simply seeking a memorable culinary adventure, Kibou Cheltenham is a must-visit destination.

You can visit the Kibou website and Instagram here.

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