Oct 25 2013

Flesh & Buns


Flesh & Buns is a very publicized and blogged about restaurant and for a long time it has been on the top of the list of the restaurants I want to visit. I finally managed to go there with my boyfriend on a Friday night and we both loved it. Flesh & Buns is an Izakaya restaurant (Izakaya is a Japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks, casual place for after work drinking) and owned by the same people that own Bone Daddies, a Japanese ramen restaurant in Soho and you have the same sort of  fun vibe in Flesh & Buns that you have in Bone Daddies (the menu has funny/ sexual implying themes, the bathroom has interesting posters).

Flesh & Buns is located in Covent Garden, just off Neil street. When you enter the large door with a big sign Flesh & Buns, you go down a staircase into the basement and there is a large room full of tables and an open kitchen on one side. You can book a table, which is so nice and refreshing, as most of these sort of places are no reservation places (note on this particular occasion we did not book a table and still managed to get one). You can either sit by high communal table and stools around it or bigger groups also can sit by sit down more traditional tables. We arrived at around 6pm and sat on these high stool chairs and tables. At first it was fine, but later during the evening and during the end of the meal, it got so busy and people were sitting so close to you, I had to shout across the long table and my boyfriend had problems hearing what I was saying (which is always very important) as it was so loud. Conversations were not easy. Also it was quite funny as people that were sitting next to you were closer to you than the person opposite you, and they sat people opposite each other, so it was a bit annoying. Also there was not that much space to put your food on the table with people being so close to you.

We chose a delicious sparkling sake to drink, it was tasty, light, sort of like prosecco, very interesting as I had not had a sparkling sake before, and this place has a huge selection of sakes, like a true Izkaya. We loved the food menu, and one of the waiters did a great job explaining it to us. The star of the menu was definitely the flesh & buns, a dish that you have to have. The restaurant is named after the “flesh” which is meat/ fish and then a nice soft bun in which you put in this filling. For 2 people it is enough to order one of these flesh and buns from a selection of around 10 different “flesh”, and then chose some snacks and small dishes to accompany the meal. The “flesh & buns” dishes cost from £13 to £19.5 each, and do not include the actual buns (they used to, but not anymore), and for £2.50 you get 2 delicious buns. But besides the flesh and buns, the menu also features delicious Japanese food, like seared beef, yellowtail and sushi rolls, but as we wanted to really see what the flesh & buns were about we ordered 2 of these fillings for flesh & buns (and 4 buns to go with it), as well as a side dish of broccoli, a dish called “pig bones” and a Korean type hot stone rice.

The food arrived as it was ready and in a sort of a funny order. First arrived the broccoli wth Yuzu kosho mayo, and this was delicious, although I wish it would have come together with some of the bigger courses that we ordered so I could eat it as a side and not on its own. Next arrived the “spicy beef hot stone rice” with mushrooms and sesame butter. A beautiful and hot dish in a bowl was placed before us and a waitress mushed all the ingredients together with a spoon and told us to wait a bit until the rice starts burning at the bottom of the plate, as then it is more delicious. It reminded me a bit of a rice dish my Korean friend Haewon always orders in a Korean restaurants, and it was very tasty, and the slightly burn rice was definitely better than the non-burnt rice, so I am glad we listened to the waitress. There was not that much beef, mainly vegetables but a dish full of flavour, really enjoyed it. Next arrived a dish my boyfriend had chosen called “pig bones” which had pork ribs with sweet and spicy miso and scattered with spring onions. Once again it was delicious, the meat was falling of the bone, it had a lot of flavour, mouthwatering ribs.

And then the star dish arrived – flesh and buns. We had ordered 2 fillings and first arrived “fried sole with ginger, lemon mayo, served with pickled daikon”. The sole was deep fried and nicely served on a fish bone. I first took the most amazing steamed bun which the waitress had brought us and then filled it with the fish, daikon and lemon mayo. The bun was sensational, think of a Chinese pork puff but just many many times better, it was soft, warm, sort of thin and delicious. I loved putting the sole, daikon and lemon mayo in it and eating it all together. The other thing that we got was “whole baby chicken” with yuzu kosho rub and shimeji mushroom pickle. It was sort of awkward and not very easy to remove the chicken from the bone, with which it arrived and then put it in the bun with the mushrooms, so I sort of ended eating a bit of chicken, then a bit of bun and then some mushrooms. The pickled mushrooms were sensational, as was the pickled daikon, and every dish on the flesh and buns menu had a different pickled thing to go with the meat/ fish and as I am obsessed with pickles, all these things seemed so tempting to me. I did enjoy the chicken, but I did not think the taste was anything special, just chicken, and the yuzu kosho green rub did not make it that much better, so it was a good dish, not great.

The people sitting next to us were having the sirloin beef with red onion pickle and putting that into the buns and that seemed amazing, and my boyfriend and I both regret that we did not chose this filling, as it seemed like the best thing to eat with the buns (I asked my neighbours which were sitting super close to us, as I explained before, if I could take a picture of this dish and you can see it below). Whilst my boyfriend and I both liked the chicken and sole flesh and buns dishes, we both sort of wish we had ordered something else as some of the other dishes just looked better. That is why we are so keen to go back and try more things at Flesh & Buns.

We had a great meal at Flesh & Buns despite not choosing the best flesh for the buns in our view. We loved the concept of the flesh and buns and I loved the pickles and the whole process of building your own little bun, and loved all the other dishes we had ordered. The only negative was that I had to shout across the table, but that is a minor issue, and I am really looking forward to going back and trying more dishes from the menu. This was one of those meals we will remember for a long time. I definitely prefer this restaurant to Bone Daddies.

Date: 25/ 10/ 13
Location: Covent Garden
Price for 2 people with alcohol and service charge: 87.86

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Maija rated: 




Flesh & Buns
41 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LX
United Kingdom
Flesh & Buns Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4