These days when I’m in Soho I’m usually running between meetings or to the tube in fear of the ‘late pick-up’ charge at my son’s nursery. Last week I was able to amble through at about 5pm, just as everything is gearing up for after work drinks and date nights and girlfriend catch-ups. Given the chance to actually take in my surroundings I noticed many new restaurants which have popped up in the time it’s taken me to stop drinking for long enough to have a baby. It made me remember being young and single, and earning a real paycheck I could fritter on lovely things to eat and drink. And then I felt old and a bit washed up, and definitely lacking a finger (a leg, anything) on the pulse of Soho’s new trendy eateries.
Luckily I was doing a Q&A with Steve November (the director of drama for ITV) later that evening for the March session of the Writers’ Group I run for Women in Film & Television, and I had already decided that this was not an endeavour to be undertaken (glass of wine in hand) on an empty stomach. I’d read of a new pop-up from the Bone Daddies group – Shackfuyu – which had just opened on Old Compton Street, and headed that way, daring it to make me feel young and cool again.
The concept is that there is one main dish which changes regularly, and then a number of sides to supplement your meal. The main was beef picanha with kimchee tare butter, which, for some mad reason (I regretted it instantly), I decided against in favour of a number of the smaller dishes.
Instead I ordered prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki, mentaiko mac and cheese with bacon and cock scratchings, and roasted beets with shiso and avocado for the token veg.
The prawn toasts were magnificent and were served with a citrus spicy mayonnaise that I think I could have eaten just on it’s own. As well as being beautifully presented the toasts were covered in bonito flakes which danced on the top like burning paper, giving quite a transfixing effect.
The mac & cheese was lovely and creamy and was revolutionised by the cock scratchings, but I have to say I found the (unmentioned on the menu) fish eggs plonked on the top quite disgusting. This is not a good place to go if you don’t like culinary surprises.
I can’t complain about the roasted beets as they were what was said, roasted beets, and they did cut through the umami flavours of the rest of the food, but at £4.80 I was hoping for something a little more special.
With my Q&A duties in mind I restrained my drinks choice to a mocktail and went for the bright pink California Dreaming – a mix of cranberry, lychee & lime juice which was sweet, sharp and cold. And very pink. What’s not to like? Although I probably couldn’t drink more than one or two. My tap water was also regularly refilled from an old kettle (a decorative one, not just an old Morphy Richards) which was appreciated (the taste of the fish eggs took some getting rid of).
The restaurant itself smelt, comfortingly, like a bonfire and was nicely dark with bare bricks and a bold green wall with (I presume) Japanese writing streaked across in white.
I would like to go back and try the beef (or whatever the main of the moment is) along with the incredible sounding sake menu, and when I left I definitely felt a little trendier for the ‘pop-up’ experience and unusual food. But I think in general if being trendier means having to eat a big dollop of unannounced fish eggs then I I’d rather stay old and washed up…
My meal was £21.82 including service.