Located on the permanent building site that is Berwick Street in Soho (will they ever finish digging up that road?) this is Alan Yau’s latest restaurant. You know Alan Yau, the chap who created Wagamama and sold it for millions then did the same with Yauatcha and Hakkasan.
There’s a downstairs bar/pub and a restaurant upstairs at the top of a rather tiny spiral staircase. The dining room was cramped to say the least; I felt like I had to move my chair in and apologise for being in the way every time someone walked past, which never makes for a relaxing lunch.
The menu is huge and some of it is a tad expensive. From the dimsum section; venison puffs (£4.80), char siu buns (£4.50), scallop shu mai (£8.20) and taro croquettes (£4.20) were all beautifully made with superb flavour.
Chicken feet (£4.50) were exactly the same as we tried in Yauatcha a few years back. They’re quite unattractive to eat; you basically pop a foot in your mouth, suck the flabby skin off the bones and cartilage, then spit the rest out. Quite a minging process really but worth it for the delicious flavour.
As my gentleman companion bit into the pork and Chinese leaf gyoza (£5.50) a watery substance squirted out the side which was a bit of a shock. It was only then that we realised the pork filling was raw. The manager kept fobbing us off by never actually saying it was raw (which it was), just that it “didn’t meet the chef’s standards”. We were bought a new batch but I’d lost my gyoza appetite by then.
Salt and pepper squid (£10.50) was at least cooked to perfection, with plenty of sliced red chillies to give a surprisingly subtle heat. Jasmine smoked pork ribs (£14) were super impressive; the sticky glaze was moreish and the meat retained its texture yet literally fell off the bone.
Singapore fried noodles (£12), which featured pork and prawn, and sweet and sour pork (£9) were brilliantly-done versions of what you’d get from your local Chinese – which ain’t a bad thing in my book.
Duck and Rice was all very pleasant but it didn’t exactly set my world on fire; I didn’t leave wanting to tell all my friends and family to go there immediately. The food was actually very lovely, but a raw pork gyoza? Really?