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Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Where: 14a Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TJ, http://www.bonedaddies.com/shackfuyu/
Cost: The small dishes cost around £4 to £8, the larger options vary from £13.50 to £15, while dessert is priced at £6. The average food cost is around £30 to £35 per person.
About: A temporary restaurant, with a planned life span of twelve months, this latest outpost of Bone Daddies is at the Charing Cross Road end of Old Compton Street opened in February 2015, and due to close in February 2016.
With bare wood floors, walls of distressed brick or lime green, and a soundtrack of American hard rock, the restaurant serves up a range of Japanese cuisine inspired small eats, together with Japanese beers, sakes and a smattering of wines. The aim is to change the menu every 6 weeks or so. There is a lively basement bar. The restaurant does not take reservations, but on the Saturday night we had dinner, there was fortunately no queue.
What We Ate: We started with the yellowtail sashimi tostada with avocado shiso (£2.50 each) was made up of a crispy tortilla with crushed avocado and shiso herb (a Japanese herb which tastes like a cross between mint and basil and is also known as perilla), topped with a slice of yellowtail, a dot of Siriracha and a slice of jalapeño chilli. We found this underwhelming – the flavours did not quite come together and we both thought it was a tad expensive for what was being offered.
The other starter was the mackerel nanban-style (£7.80) is a dish I often serve at my Japanese and Nikkei Supper Club and while I enjoyed the tangy flavours of the nanban dressing, I would have liked a bit more chilli heat. And again we felt that at this price level we expected a bit more mackerel.
For main we had the whole sole roasted with shiso chimichurri (£15) which was the special of the night. This was excellent – perfectly cooked in the wood oven (a great inheritance by the former pizza venue Shackfuyu has taken over the premises from), with zingy and refreshing flavours from the shiso chimichurri, it was probably the best dish of the evening.
The other main was also great - USDA beef picanha, with kimchee butter (£14.50). Served with raw pickled onions, the beef was tender, well cooked and served medium rare just as ordered. I love a good Picanha (Brazil’s national cut of beef, synonymous to Churrasco or BBQ in the country where it is served simply encrusted in rock salt and grilled) and Shackfuyu was very well flavoured.
To accompany our main dishes, we shared a Mentaiko mac 'n cheese with bacon and 'cock scratchings' made of crushed deep fried chicken skin (£6.90). Mentaiko is Japanese Pollack or cod roe, which is marinated in chillies so it becomes spicy and pinkish in colour. It is one of the main ingredients of Kyushu Island in Japan where my family comes from. Mentaiko is one of my favourite Japanese ingredients and I love it simply over white Japanese rice or in Mentaiko Spaghetti, it tastes amazing!
So of course that Shackfuyu’s Mentaiko mac ‘n chesse had to be ordered - but I found it slightly odd – I could hardly taste any Mentaiko in it, and the cock scratchings had such an overpowering flavour I could not taste anything else. This is definitely a combination of flavours that should be revisited by the restaurant.
A much better accompaniment was the beef hot stone rice (£8.30), served Korean bibimbap-style - in a hot stone bowl, with a raw egg yolk on top, and mixed at the table by our waiter. With sweetcorn, shiitake mushrooms, julienne carrots and kizami nori (shredded nori seaweed), this had a good amount of chilli and great flavours.
For dessert, we shared a portion of Kinako French toast with soft matcha ice cream (£6). A thick slice of bread soaked in custard then pan fried, this had a crisp coating of caramelised sugar with a dusting of Kinako (toasted soya bean powder) and a lovely, slightly astringent green tea ice cream.
What We Drank: Shackfuyu offers a range of beers, cocktails and wines. We started with a can of Niigata unfiltered pale ale (£4.80), and a bottle of Asahi Black (£4). After that, we moved on to Asahi beer at £4.80 per pint on draft.
Wines are available by the glass, carafe and bottle, with an exclusively New World choice of just three red and three white wines, starting at £18.50 per bottle for a white South African Chenin Blanc and a red South African Cab Sauv.
Likes: the special of the day, roasted whole sole with a shiso dressing was delicious, as was the USDA picanha beef, the bibimbap rice and the Kinako French toast with green tea ice cream. The staff were very friendly and seemed to understand the food and ingredients they were serving.
Dislikes: the tostadas were tiny and overpriced as was the nanban-style mackerel. I really wanted to like the Mentaiko Mac ‘n Cheese but the combination of flavours did not work for me.
Verdict: I enjoyed Shackfuyu’s creative use of Japanese ingredients for some of its dishes. Their food offerings go beyond the ubiquitous Japanese sushi and sashimi to show a number of Japanese ingredients not much known in the UK. Recommended.