Soggy prawn crackers, doughy spring rolls, fluorescent sweet and sour pork and oil-drenched bowls of noodle soup. That’s the British take on Asian food, right?
Until recently, we would have agreed, but thanks to the latest influx of super talented chefs serving delicious, challenging dishes in dynamic, on-trend environments, the tide is a-turning.
From unctuous, meat-filled Hirata buns from Taiwan at Covent Garden’s Flesh and Buns, to super-fresh noodle soups from Japan being ladled out at Soho’s Koya (and new sister restaurant Koya Bar), there’s a whole host of exciting, refreshingly different ways to eat Asian food in the capital. Here’s our pick of the best.
1 | Hirata Buns at Flesh & Buns (above)
The latest offering from the team behind Soho’s prime ramen spot Bone Daddies, Flesh and Buns is all about the cloud like Hirata buns, which you fill yourself with different meats, sauces and vegetables. Originating from Taiwan, the buns may resemble the mouths of muppets, but they’re delicious and particularly cloud-like, due to the addition of both yeast and baking powder during baking. Once you’ve filled up on buns and side dishes (make sure you order the deliciously crispy salt and pepper squid) finish things off with some s’mores – sandwiches of marshmallow, biscuit and green tea chocolate which you cook over your own personal fire – and a bottle of lightly sparkling Mio, a lighter take on traditional sake.
2 | Noodles for breakfast at Koya Bar
Sat right next door to big sister restaurant Koya on Soho’s Frith Street, Koya bar is set to be a more relaxed all-day kind of affair. Most interestingly, Koya Bar will be offering innovative takes on traditional Japanese breakfast dishes. Try the English breakfast Udon, with egg, bacon and shitake or the Kinoko Okayu, rice porridge with mixed mushrooms, pickle, tsukudani and egg.
3 | Eat your way around China at HKK
The more intimate cousin of Mayfair’s trendy Hakkasan, HKK is snuck down a side street on the rim of the square mile. The main reason to visit? The delicious, if challenging 15 course tasting menu. Bringing together a range of traditional Chinese dishes with a twist, you’ll munch your way through doughy dumplings of caviar and lobster, the best crispy duck pancakes you’ll ever try and pillows of deep fried pineapple. Well worth the £95 price tag.
4 | Hit the pub at Kurobuta
Opening early next month in London’s Connaught Village, Kurobuta is the brainchild of Scott Hallsworth, former head chef at Nobu. An Izakaya (a type of Japanese pub), the relaxed eatery will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving Japanese pastries, snack dishes like beef fillet tataki with onion ponzu and garlic crisps and bento boxes - all at surprisingly low prices. The drinks are also worth a try – opt for the Hobo, a sake-based cocktail served in a paper bag-wrapped beaker.