Freakscene, Soho

Last night, my friend Giuliana and I tried out a new restaurant that had opened up a few weeks ago by a chef who had previously been at Kurobuta. I was excited as I walked into the restaurant, realising that it was the space for the old Barrafina! All counter space gives the restaurant a more low key, relaxed feel… and excited for more Asian “junk food,” as I’m a big fan of Kurobura.

Unfortunately, as there are counter seats on both sides of the bar but also across the window pain, it’s a bit of a tight squeeze any time someone walks by.. which can get a bit annoying!

The first dish we tried was the chili crab and avocado wonton bombs. The crab was nice and fresh, and tasted nice with the fried onions, coriander and chili on top… but there was a lot of wonton for me, maybe too much compared to what was inside. The crab/avocado combo was good, but you were able to taste the toppings (coriander, chili, onions) much more than the combo itself.

Then, the black cod tacos, which were served on… more wontons. As I had just finished one, I wasn’t super excited to eat another right away… But the miso black cod was very tender, and nice on a warm bed of sushi rice. I found that the wonton overpowered the taste of the taco, but the taste itself was nice!

Then, the pork belly lettuce wraps… Honey-hoisin pork belly (cooked through, which I liked… I don’t like when it’s too fatty) and served with mussels (yes, mussels) and a hot pineapple sambal sauce… the pork belly was good, the mussels were unexpected but tender and not fishy… they just gave a nice texture to the more dense pork… but they were covered in the sauce. Covered. I was hardly able to taste the pork and couldn’t taste the delicate mussels, as the sambal was too overpowering…

Then, the scallops… these were my favourite dish all night. Roasted scallops with wild garlic leaf in a soy-truffle butter sauce… yum. It was nice to have some vegetable (very difficult on this menu!), and again the shallot and crispy onion topping gave a nice contrast to the scallops… and the butter… it was sweet, tangy, and creamy… and delicious.

Finally, the chicken fried chicken, which the waitress said was her favourite… served with a peanut soy sauce and sweet and sour pickles, this was an interesting dish… the chicken was cooked perfectly, and came off the bone very easily… the sticky, sweet soy and peanut sauce was good, but a bit too intense with the chicken, overpowering it quickly (but funnily enough, better on its own!)… luckily, there were the pickled cucumber slices that cut down on the rich sauce… but this also quickly became too much for me…

So? I’m not sure I would come back. I like the idea of Asian junk food, fried, with sauces… but these dishes were for the most part too much for me, either too fried with the large wonton, too sweet and sticky with the peanut soy, or too much sauce in the case of the sambal… So I would head back to Kurobuta before coming back here.

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