The latest venture from ex-Nobu chef Ross Shonhan’s Bone Daddies empire is a pop-up that’s gone permanent: Shackfuyu, a Japanese fast food joint that serves yoshuku – a Japanese take on Western cuisine, fusing the best of Western full-on flavour with Japanese creativity.
From first glance, it looks quite small but it’s a Tardis and goes back a long way, packed with long, high tables with stools and smaller tables for two or four with comfy bench seating and warm, dark wood décor. We were there for dinner midweek and it was busy; bearded hipsters mixing with colourful creatives and theatre-goers all enjoying the buzzy, friendly mood.
The concept is sharing plates and there is a choice of smaller and bigger ones – we started with some of the smaller ones: the tako tacos with octopus, shiso avocado and gochujang (chilli paste) arrived first, which was a great start to awaken our taste buds; a great combination of avocado and sweet, treacle-like paste with the chopped octopus chunks.
Our eyes widened as the remaining plates arrived: Orkney scallop sashimi, with lemon ponzu and shiso; monkfish cheeks with chilli pepper and lemon mayo, imo fries with shiso mayo, prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki, roast sweetcorn with lime butter and seven-spice pepper, and Mylor shrimps with curry salt.
My favourite of these was the monkfish cheeks; soft and meaty chunks of fish wrapped in a soft batter with a sweet chilli kick. My friend loved the imo fries with shiso mayo; a Japanese take on the classic northern chips n’ gravy, and we both got our fingers grubby peeling the mylor shrimps and dipping them in the curry salt, our tongues tingling with the savoury umami finish of it.
All that salt means you will be thirsty. And there are plenty of choices of Japanese tipples – the range of beer, cocktails, Japanese whisky and wine is extensive. And then, there’s the sake: speciality, cold and warm, and being a sake novice, I went for glass of the Ume No Yado Gin – Daiginjo on the advice of our friendly server; a mild rice sake with a smooth finish.
The ‘prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki’ (savoury grilled pancake) was a highlight too, with fried prawn toast drizzled with mayo and hoisin-like sticky glaze, sprinkled with seaweed flakes – just the right balance of crunch and flavour. And the scallop sashimi had just the right amount of bite and tangy finish – I could have eaten a lot more of those!
Our big sharing plate arrived next: the hot stone rice with sesame, chilli and beef, which arrived sizzling and required stirring by our server to avoid sticking. Crunchy and stodgy rice mixed with savoury heat of the beef and chilli made for a satisfying main dish. But there was still room for dessert – and what a dessert it was! There is only one on the menu: the Kinako French toast which is a doorstep chunk of warm, buttery, vanilla fried bread that was crispy on the outside with a stodgy middle, served with green tea flavour soft-style ice cream. Absolutely delicious.
We left feeling happy and full; and with that evangelical urge you get after a good meal to tell everyone we came across about the foodie heaven that is Shackfuyu!
This article first appeared on Foodepedia