Kurobuta Pop Up

Kurobuta has popped up in Chelsea.
The Japanese-Asian Pop Up is the baby of ex-Nobu head chef Scott Hallsworth and is making some serious waves on King’s Road.

Currently nesting in a little, intimate space, Kurobuta’s big bright plans are soon coming to fruition with a permanent location near Marble Arch.

But for now, dinner.

www.alessandrabrian.comWe were seated in the lower level of the restaurant, tucked behind the bar, me with the perfect view of the kitchen buzzing behind my date. This obviously left me a little distracted, but was very kindly put up with as I rattled on about what was happening out of sight.

www.alessandrabrian.comThe first of our order arrived, a plate of sweet potato and Soba-Ko fries with kimchee mayo & jalapeño sauce. The fries were a little lacking in sweet potato flavour, but had a lovely crunch to them. Both sauces were phenomenal and we kept these on the table throughout the night to dip (drown) other things in.

Sushi purists look away now.
www.alessandrabrian.comMy sushi obsession was happily satisfied by the arrival of soft shell crab tempura maki with kimchee mayo. The crunchy, sweet bite of fried crab was full of flavour and paired well with my naughty addition of wasabi and jalapeño sauce.
All sushi is healthy, right? Good, just checking. 
www.alessandrabrian.comThis was followed by one of the specials, foie gras & eel maki. Another sweet and successful, if not unexpected, flavour combination. www.alessandrabrian.com
Having watched Chef Hallsworth blow torch countless buns, giving them a smoky, chargrilled flavour and texture, I couldn’t wait for our next dish.
www.alessandrabrian.comBBQ pork belly in steamed buns arrived with with a spicy peanut soy sauce, which I generously slathered on each bite.

www.alessandrabrian.com These were by far my favourite dish of evening and we even considered a second order. But, there was still another dish to come, so we held off.  www.alessandrabrian.comThis proved to be a good decision as the special of Hamachi collar was great as well. Tender chunks of fresh fish with a nice citrus kick left us feeling full, satisfied…

www.alessandrabrian.comand ready for dessert. www.alessandrabrian.comYou didn’t think I’d leave without dessert, did you?
There were a select few to choose from the handwritten board. I don’t remember the other options, but one of them had chocolate so, easy decision.

A beautiful creation of pistachio, dark chocolate mousse, pistachio cake, pecans, and blackcurrant jellies arrived spread out across the plate. Another well paired dish with deep, sweet bites of chocolate and pistachio accompanied by a burst of sour flavour from the fresh berries and black current jellies.

I could’ve used twice the amount on the plate, but that’s because I’m a glutton.
www.alessandrabrian.comIf you don’t make it to Kurobuta’s current location, be sure to visit them in their new, permanent home near Marble Arch soon for a feast of Japanese junk food.

Flesh & Buns

The team behind Bone Daddies, Soho’s favourite ramen hotspot, opened Flesh & Buns in Covent Garden last year. I had wanted to go since day one, but fate seemed to continuously intervene. As the designated foodie, it’s always insisted that I choose the restaurant. Thus, dining at Flesh & Buns should’ve been a simple one to check off the list. Yet, several dates, meet ups and catch ups planned around dining at this particular establishment, always seemed to fall through.

Fast forward to a new year, back in London from the States, and outside Flesh & Buns. My date and I scurried in from the cold, down the stairs, under the projected anime cartoons and into the restaurant. The layout is informal, taking inspiration from Japanese izakayas, with tables, booths and a long, high top running down the middle of the room between the bar and open kitchen.

The venue certainly continues London’s Rock & Roll restaurant theme, yet was considerably brighter and whiter than I expected. The name is derived from the highlight of the menu, flesh and buns. Flesh being different types of meat, including 28 day dry aged ribeye, lamb chops, grilled sea bass and young chicken. Buns being the Chinese Hirata buns which have become something of a food trend in London over the last year, and I can certainly see why. Pillowy, chewy, sweet vehicles of deliciousness, gently escorting tender, flavourful ingredients into my mouth.

But first, starters.

We kicked off the night with Chips & Dips.
The American in me excepting a bowl of tortilla chips with a fresh, chunky salsa felt confused as to why this would be served in a ‘Japanese’ restaurant. But such confusion was slightly pacified upon the arrival of large, fried rice crackers. Accompanying this, a bowl of guacamole and jalapeño salsa. Let the confusion be ignored as this was delicious, light, and incredibly moreish. Flesh & BunsWhenever I spot yellowtail sashimi on a menu, I have to order it. It has yet to fail to please and I love seeing the different ingredients used to enhance one of my favourite pieces of fish. The Flesh & Buns version involved an incredibly flavourful combination of lime soy, green chilli and granita.
Regrettably this had to be shared. Although, I considering sneaking an extra piece whilst he was distracted with the arrival of his miso soup.

Flesh & BunsOnto the main event. Flesh & BunsThis is what a happy foodie looks like – pre feast Flesh & BunsWe settled on the crispy duck leg with sour plum soy and beetroot pickle, which was forked apart table side into bun-size pieces. (see what I did there? instead of bite-size?) The meat was a little salty, but evened out with the bite from pickled beetroot. Flesh & BunsFlesh & BunsFlesh & BunsThe duck was good, but the crispy piglet belly with mustard miso and pickled apple was on a completely different level. Tender, soft meat with a slight crunch from the crispy crackling paired perfectly with sour pickled apple and a mustard miso sauce.
This, I 
could’ve eaten all over again. Twice. 

Flesh & BunsFlesh & BunsFlesh & BunsLast, but so obviously not least, the sweet stuff.
S’mores with marshmallows, biscuits and green tea chocolateFlesh & Buns For years I’ve talked about doing s’mores as a dessert in one of my (future) restaurants. When Flesh & Buns first opened its doors last year, the concept sounded fun and enticing, but damnit, I then discovered they stole my idea!

Now, I don’t actually believe the Bone Daddies boys sat around listening to my countless food conversations, plotting how to steal my plans. But, I knew I had to see how they executed such a classic American dessert. Flesh & BunsA little Japanese fire pit arrives along with green tea chocolate, marshmallows and two biscuits each, to sandwich your s’more.

Flesh & BunsTake your marshmallow, and after gently toasting, or violently setting aflame as the method my date chose to take, then smush (technical term) it between your two biscuits and piece of chocolate. The heat from the marshmallow will melt the chocolate creating a gooey, delicious sandwich. Flesh & BunsAs if the s’mores weren’t enough, we plumped for the Kinako donuts with black sugar custard.
Flesh & Buns

These, are not a thing of elegance.
One bite left the custard running down my face. Although not as visually exciting as the s’mores, they are however, competitors in the flavour department. Thick, sugar coated balls of dough each filled with a sweet, warm custard. Pure decadence and a fantastic end to an amazing meal. Flesh & BunsIt took me absolutely ages to get around to going to Flesh & Buns and for those that are letting it continue to linger on your list, go!

Promise me you’ll order the s’mores?
Oh! And be sure to go wash your hands in the bathroom for some surprise, um, adult humour on the walls.