Thursday, 16 November 2017

SHACKFUYU

Shackfuyu has been on my list of places to try for quite some time now. By the same people as Bone Daddies, which of course has become famous for serving ramen noodle soups with a modern twist, Shackfuyu serves some of the finest and most affordable Japanese / Western fusion this town has to offer and as a result quickly became one of the hottest dining spots in town. This inevitably meant that it got pretty impossible to secure a table here without a lengthy waiting time during normal dining hours (i.e. any time between 7-9pm) which is the main reason why this place had eluded me thus far. 

A lucky coincidence then that I had bought my friend Henry, a big musical aficionado, tickets to see An American in Paris as birthday present which meant that we were on the hunt for a post-theatre late night dining venue, able to elegantly dodge the Friday dinner rush! Even luckier that Shackfuyu happens to offer an excellent express menu, designed to show off the best of their menu for a more than reasonable price at off peak times (here it is offered everyday until 6:30pm and after 10pm).
For only £22 you get a starter, main, dessert and a choice of drink (a glass of house red or white or a soft drink), which is, considering what hype surrounds this restaurant (their french toast dessert with green tea soft serve is an insta sensation in itself),a rather excellent deal especially as the options are not in any way second rate but instead taken straight from their main menu.

We were more than excited then after a fabbuuuuulous few hours watching an American in Paris (which I can only recommend getting tickets for especially when like me you enjoy ballet) to finally head to Shackfuyu and it being 10:30pm were immediately sat down in the sleek yet intimate dining space. After a bit of online research it became pretty clear that we had veer away at least a little from the express menu and order one of their infamous yuzu frozen margaritas. It was quite something - zingy notes of yuzu combined with that classic margarita taste, making it one of the most moorish and refreshing cocktails I have had in London for a while.

In terms of menu there are three starters, three mains and of course their iconic green tea dessert on offer, with options to satisfy any meat, fish and veggie eater around! We couldn’t resist additionally ordering their “prawn toast” as a starter to the starter, particularly as I have a real soft spot for okonomiyaki (a type of Japanese savoury pancake topped with Japanese mayo and bbq sauce) and it did not disappoint with it’s rich flavours, far superior indeed to what one would usually classify as prawn toast.
As our actual starters we both picked the sublime sea bass ceviche with pickled tomatoes which was fresh, flavourful and a feast for the eyes though I would have also happily tried their enticing sounding veggie option of grilled mushrooms with miso butter.

For mains Henry went for the beef chuck tender with chilli sauce which left him more than impressed while I went for the miso aubergine topped with a kind of Japanese version of rice crispies which may sound odd but was one of the most outstanding veggie mains I have ever had in my life. Aubergine isn’t easy to get right but here the combination of miso with extra crunch on top and an aubergine cooked just tender was simple outstanding. This was fine dining that showed off a sophisticated hand in cooking and truly succeeded in elevated a humble vegetable into something absolutely amazing. Though the mains aren’t huge portion wise they are served with perfectly prepared sticky rice, ideal for soaking up the flavours, and mean one has enough space left for their oh so famous dessert.

Indeed I had seen their kinako French toast with green tea soft serve many, many times on the internet, it becoming an almost infamous dish in the London restaurant scene in the last year or so which got me more than excited to finally try it. It of course looked the part, a perfectly crispy and sweet French toast slice with a luscious swirl of green tea soft serve but I am happy to report that it was also quite uniquely delicious. Yes, the green tea soft serve is not everyone’s cup of tea in its earthy flavours but it works an absolute treat with the French toast which is soft on the inside and crispy from the caramelised sugar on the outside. It’s something like I have never had before and not only visually stunning but a flavour combination everyone should experience.

Rounding up the evening with one last yuzu margarita and fully stuffed from our 3 (well maybe 4) courses we were left utterly won over by Shackfuyu’s innovative and fresh western take on Japanese cuisine especially considering the amazing value for money their express menu offers.

This place fully deserves the praise it has gotten and should be more than enough reason for all of you to have a later (or indeed earlier) than usual dinner to experience the wonders it has to offer at a price that will make you feel like you are almost cheating them. Shackfuyu is a real London dining gem that showcases the creativity of our food scene without the price tag of a Michelin star joint and should be cherished for that, i for one will be back.

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