Restaurant Review: Flesh and Buns (London, UK)

Last week MF took me out to Flesh and Buns, the new izakaya restaurant from Bone Daddies, near Covent Garden. Note: according to Wikipedia “izakaya” is a “type of Japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks.” Now that makes it sound like more of a bar than a stand-alone restaurant, which isn’t really the case here. Of course, their selection of cocktails, mixed with exotic ingredients like elderflower, passionfruit, and lychee, will keep you and your date satisfyingly giddy – but it’s really the food you’ll come back for.

When I think of the menu, several words come to mind: fresh, fusion, and quality. Everything we ate was a twist on the original, packed with flavour, and perfectly portioned. We started with the “Chips and Dips.” Not what you think! The waiter brought over a basket of herb-covered, paper-thin rice crackers to use as a scoop for the avocado shiso (think a lighter, more citrusy version of guacomole) and tomato jalapeño dips. These were just what the doctor ordered: a delicious amuse-bouche to get our taste buds ready for what was ahead without over-stuffing us.

Since the waiter suggested we share three small plates and one “flesh and bun” between the two of us, we also ordered the beef skewers and crispy calamari from the “hot small plates” section to start. OK so the dishes themselves might seem smaller than you’d like (ie there are only two beef skewers and the calamari could be held in one big fist). But don’t confuse quantity with quality. Both the steak and calamari were melt-in-your-mouth cooked to perfection and kept us both – a man and a pregnant woman – pleasantly satisfied until our next dish arrived.

The main attraction was of course the “flesh and buns.” Well, obviously, since it’s the name of the restaurant! A friend had recommended we order the crispy duck and we were not disappointed. How does it work? You first select your “flesh” of choice: salmon teriyaki, lamb chops, sirloin steak, crispy piglet belly, grilled sea bass or crispy dug leg, amongst others. Your dish arrives with a selection of greens (lettuce and cucumber), plum sauce and basket of steamed, sweet buns already cut in half, which you’ll use to sandwich all the ingredients together. After the waiter offered to shred our duck for us, we layered the moist meat and crispy bits with the greens, drizzling it with plum sauce before closing the top bun and devouring. Yum! We had two buns each.

If you’re on a first date, be warned, the buns are not the most elegant thing to eat. We contemplated using a fork and knife, but half the fun is just going at it with your bare hands. Once finished, we were highly tempted by the dessert menu: Kinako donuts with black sugar custard, S’mores, Yuzu meringue pie with raspberry yuzu sorbet, and chocolate and Japanese whisky mousse cake. Overall, a wonderful, unique, and tasty dining experience.

I also recommend trying Bone Daddies in the colder months for some rich and delicious ramen soup.

*Photos courtesy of Flesh and Buns website

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