I live my life by following my tastebuds. I read about this place as the Chef had worked at Michellin star restaurants such as Nobu and Hakkasan. As a born-again postgrad student, the price tag of £12.50 a head for a 3 course meal seemed completely unbelievable*. So I just had to give it a try.
The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside. Most people I have mentioned it to have absolutely no idea where it is. Hidden on Haymarket Walk just off the Bearpit, it’s out of the way but well worth the search.
Those that want an extensive menu to pick from will not find it here. The set menu changes daily, with an option of meat and fish or vegetarian. They ask about allergies on booking, which I like a lot (not because I have any, but because it’s good to know they care.) The staff are very polite and smiley. Oh, and the restaurant is very intimate. All guests sit on one large table in the centre of the restaurant, this is cool but be prepared to apologise to numerous people on the way to the loo. The atmosphere is cosy yet intriguing – you are surrounded by pickling kimchi and exotic fruits to wonder at.
The service is excellent. The front of house staff explain each course with easy precision; the ingredients, where it came from and can even answer all your questions i.e. what the heck is a Rambutan?
|Beetroot cured salmon, black sesame paste, rambutan, kiwi, yuzu, watermelon, purple potato and buckwheat noodles.|
For starters, we’re brought beetroot cured salmon which was delightfully meaty and fresh. It was accompanied by a black sesame paste and an array of tropical wonders including the aforementioned rambutan, kiwi, yuzu infused watermelon, purple potato and buckwheat noodles. For me, this was literally the perfect way to start, the dish was fresh on the palate and the subtle sweetness of the fruit really left you wanting more. The unusual fruits really added to the experience and the presentation of the dish was outstanding.
|Grilled mackerel, honey and mustard chicken and steamed rice with dates|
For the main course, we were shocked at the sheer amount of food that came out to the table for us. I’m a big fan of interactive eating so it was nice to pick and choose from a bunch of different dishes and sides. My favourite was probably the honey and mustard chicken, the sauce light and tangy and the chicken very tender. The Chef also served grilled mackerel which had delicious crispy skin and a perfectly delicate white flesh.
Accompanying the main was a selection of sides including steamed rice with dates, pickled durdock in gochujang, Nori egg rolls, oyster mushrooms, baby anchovies and a kale salad with goji berries. My favourite was the salty and crunchy anchovies – unbelievably moreish. I didn’t love the steamed rice and I found it a bit bland. However, I do have a bit of an aversion to dates so that could have put me off it.
My one and only gripe is that we weren’t offered kimchi. As it’s an acquired taste, the front of house staff are meant to check to see if you want to try it but we seem to have been overlooked. We only know this because the Chef caught us after our meal and let slip that we should have been offered it. She promised to let us try as much as we liked next time.
|Pickled burdock in gochujang sauce, pancake, nori egg rolls, oyster mushrooms, baby anchovies and kale salad.|
The set menu is priced at £12.50 a head, so a ridiculously reasonable price. For an extra £2.50, you can order the dessert. Well, the chocolate mousse was unlike anything I have ever had before. Subtle chocolate cream with a hint of tart raspberry. Delectable.
Did I mention it was BYO? Rejoice.
If you fancy something a little different where the experience is on par with the standard of the cooking then you need to try Sky Kong Kong. It’s a well-kept secret and you’ll be glad you joined the club.
* disclaimer – the friends I went with are certainly not poor students and they agreed it was ridiculous value.