Flesh & Buns’ East Asian cuisine is as painfully trendy as the name suggests.
When a good friend invited me to dine there for her birthday, I was clueless enough to turn my nose up. Buns, appetising perhaps; flesh, not so much. However I was soon enlightened.
The menu centres around the main event, the Taiwanese Hirata bun, which can be filled with a choice of ‘flesh’ from flat iron steak with pickled shemiji to braised pork belly with a mustard miso. The steamed bun may not be an uncommon street food, particularly in New York, but is given a new lease of life in this recent venture from the creator of the rock’n’roll ramen establishment Bone Daddies.
Here the Hirata bun is given the full attention it deserves, beyond the characteristically rushed atmosphere of a marketplace. The ‘flesh’ and accompanying sauce come in generous portions and, especially dining in a large group as we were, the dishes make ideal sharing for mix and match buns. In each dish the meat falls tenderly from the bone. A favourite among us is the crispy duck leg bun drizzled with a sticky sour plum soy.
Flesh & Buns is one of those places that temptingly invites you to go all out – ‘go big or go home’ – since the numerous hot and cold small dishes aren’t to be missed either. We order a large selection of sushi that is appetisingly presented. The thickly cut sashimi is a beautiful thing to behold (Instagram at the ready), sitting pretty in its own king-sized bed of ice. Personal highlights include the fried squid, which is lightly cooked and moreishly salty, as well as the softshell crab roll.
The evening is an apt celebration with the meal’s finale nothing short of theatrical. Chocolate and matcha campfire-inspired s’mores are swept from the kitchen with a small firepit, which acts as a centrepiece for diners to heat the dessert. Best for taste are the kinako donuts, highly recommended for those with a sweet tooth; the warm black sugar custard enclosed in the freshly baked donut is meltingly smooth.
Flesh & Buns is one of the few à la mode restaurants where, for me, the quality of the food has both warranted and surpassed the buzz surrounding it. Above all Shonan’s new Covent Garden establishment is playful, and happily at odds with its potentially sinister promise.
For more information go to www.fleshandbuns.com
words Sophie Dee-Shapland