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A new year, a new blog. Welcome to the first review of We Bloody Love Food.
For our first foray into the joint blogging world, Ben and I decided to push the boat out. We could have stuck with our comfort zone and visited one of the many burger or barbecue joints popping up all over London, but this was time for a special night therefore a special restaurant. So at 8:00pm we pushed open the door of Shackfuyu to begin our journey.
Having been to many a Japanese restaurant in my time there is a certain expectation of what it will look like. It will either be rustic Japanese like Kurobuta full of dark woods and Japanese symbols, or potentially a little bit soulless like the many Sushi and noodle bars dotted around London. Shackfuyu was neither. Take away the chopsticks on tables and the waiters carrying bottles of Sake, and the undeniable smell of Japanese food, and you could be in any smart new restaurant, but the ethos that had gone into the design was undeniably Japanese. Each space was thought out intricately, every table enveloped by a warm yellow glow from the lamp hovering as a bastion of illumination no more than a metre from your food.
We chose to stick mainly to the appetisers section of the menu, deciding that tapas style would allow us to get a true taste of what Shackfuyu could offer. This was a great of decision because from that we experienced, the good, the truly excellent and the not quite there that Shackfuyu can offer.
No sooner were we shown to our seats we had placed our first order, 2 portions of Korean Fried Wings for whilst we perused the rest of the menu. A beautiful orange shine from the sticky sesame sprinkled sauce on top. The first bite was heavenly, a crunch from the crispy skin followed by an immediate hit of sesame at the top. With each mouthful more flavours revealed themselves, a lovely sugary sweetness offset by distinctly asian spices. If you are a fan of Korean Wings, these are a treat. So much so that as our waiter made his recommendations he emphatically told us we must try the wings. We directed his gaze to two empty portions and respect was emphatically created between us all.
Next came our main order. Rabbit Curry Doughnuts, Nama Huromaki, prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki, Imo fries, Tako Tacos and Beef Hot Stone Rice. The Nama Huromaki, or Crab Spring Rolls to you and me, were a fantastic mix of fresh herbs, rich crab and unexpectedly a fresh salsa instead of the normal heavy sweet chilli. The balance was remarkable and the freshness cut through the heavy umami present in a lot of the other dishes. The Rabbit Curry Doughnuts were and still remain somewhat of an enigma. On the face of it they were a great idea, an empanada style fried curry ball, unfortunately the doughnut portion of the plate was taken seriously and the batter surrounding the curry carried a sweetness with it that just overpowered the already sweet rabbit curry. A great idea, just unfortunately lacking a bit in execution. If we were honest this felt a bit like a gimmick, a rabbit curry in an empanada, great! Coated in sugar, no, just no.
The Imo Fries, sweet potato fries with some sesame seasoning on top, were nice but it was the shiso mayo that was the standout member of this duo. Ben and I spent the evening lamenting how great these could have been if there were just good old fashioned potato. The prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki was a completely different beast. A breath of fresh air (which is all it took to make the Parma ham pancake flutter) and the outstanding dish of the evening. A wonderful Korean BBQ sauce was mixed with mayonnaise to create this smokey creamy flavour which surprisingly did not overpower the delicate prawns within the pancakes. The overwhelming flavour was undeniably of Chinese prawn toast but with a subtlety that brought out every flavour. Using Parma ham for the pancake was an inspired idea and added some (worthy this time) showmanship.
Finally we had our Tako Tacos and Hot Stone Rice. The Hot Stone Rice was a nice bit of theatre, as all the ingredients are mixed together in a sizzling hot bowl on the table, but after that it was a little disappointing tasting like a very rich egg fried rice. It was effectively a glorified bibimbap we just weren’t sure where the glory was (perhaps we had eaten too much!). The Tako Tacos were much of the same as well. Containing avocado, octopus, a nice sauce and some herbs they were fresh and refreshing but the ingredients did not divulge an identifiable flavour. The octopus itself was a little bland and rubbery, and was clearly just a vehicle for the sauce. The sauce was overpowered by the abundance of avocado causing a distinct lack in texture, briefly saved by the crunch of a good taco shell. Tasty, but not one I would go back for.
As is customary when Ben and I go out to eat we ordered a little dessert to cleanse the palate, another portion of Korean Wings, they really are that good!
Shackfuyu is a wonderful place to go and have a meal. The atmosphere is lively and the decor is well thought out. The menu is accessible for those new to Japanese food, but there are plenty of items for the more adventurous diner as well. Everything we ate was tasty and satisfying, there was just a lack of detail on some of the dishes which to us just brought them down from excellent to good. That, however, did not spoil the majority of great food at Shackfuyu nor the high spirits created when you walk in the place. Take some friends, warm the soul with some Sake and try some interesting variations on Japanese cooking.