Don’t let the name of this restaurant put you off (although I expect I’ve lost all vegetarian readers already). Flesh & Buns, Seven Dials, is an underground bolt hole overflowing with sake, sushi, s’mores and buns (more on those later), and it’s well worth a visit.
The head chef is Ross Shonhan, who first found success with his solo venture Bone Daddies, a ramen joint that opened last year and is still enjoying its time in the sun. New York-style Japanese noodle dishes fuse with a turned-up-too-loud sound system, and all the cool kids love it. His latest offering, Flesh & Buns, focuses on a different dish: Taiwanese Hirata buns – soft, pillowy, steamed rice-flour baps that you stuff with your choice of juicy meats (flesh) and Korean sauces. I can’t get enough.
Start your F&B visit with sake (served in oversized shot glasses, held within a little wooden box – I believe it symbolises prosperity to overfill the glass so it spills into the box…?) or cocktails – such as the Lychee Sakitini, a fine example of east meets west.
For appetisers, there are all sorts of sushi, sashimi and tempura to choose from, and they come beautifully presented (Instagram at the ready) and bursting with flavour. Don’t over-eat though, as the signature dish of flesh + bun is obviously not to be missed.
Take your pick from a range of flesh types – my recommendations:
- Tender pork belly with a perfectly crisp shell – delicious with pickled apple, mustard miso and a few greens.
- Crispy duck leg – it just falls off the bone; drizzle with sour plum soy.
- Flat iron steak – tender and flavoursome, with pickled shemiji.
The steamed buns are fantastic – such an odd but more-ish texture, they’re the perfect vehicle for the well considered meaty fillings. You’ll need 2-3 buns per person.
I would recommend leaving space for pudding, as Flesh & Buns serves up a dessert right out of an American teen campsite: s’mores that you construct yourself using the portable campfire that is delivered to your table. Toast your own marshmallows and sandwich them between caramel crackers with a hunk of matcha green tea white chocolate – a great way to end the meal. For those with a sweet tooth, the Kinako donuts go down a treat – stuffed with black sugar custard and freshly baked, just the thought is making my mouth water right now.
Groups – the dishes make great sharing plates, allowing you to mix and match flesh with bun.
The toilets – wallpapered with incredibly risqué anime cartoons, I would suggest deterring the kids from visiting. Amusing for the rest of us, though.