Flesh & Buns (Nikkei) – Oxford Circus, LondonHALAL STATUS Halal chicken options (prepped & cooked separately) • Alcohol & pork served
Flesh & Buns is part of the Bone Daddies Group, which boasts 10 restaurants across the capital, and whose founder, Ross Shonhan, declared when launching his first in 2012: “I want to challenge people’s perceptions of Japanese food.”
Of course, when we came to learn that Flesh & Buns cater for Halal chicken, with assurances that these dishes are prepped and cooked separately to ensure zero cross-contamination, we wanted to be challenged.
Now, while the menu does caution “that deep-fried items may be cooked in the same oil as other, non-vegetarian/ non-halal ingredients”, having had exclusive access to the kitchen area and spoken at length with the brand’s Head Chef Loic Leguay in person, we can confirm that said dishes at their flagship Oxford Circus branch, at least, are prepared and served appropriately.
It should be noted, however, that since their Teriyaki sauce and Yakitori contain alcohol (Saki), this rules out at least four dishes on the menu. Additionally, their S’more and Fondant desserts contain pork-based ingredients; so be sure to let management know in advance of your Halal diet.
Otherwise, there’s plenty of items to try on a menu that’s been inspired by a cross-pollination of Japanese and Peruvian cultures and their respective cuisines, which is referred to as Nikkei.
The restaurant itself makes use of plenty of wood, dark hues and warm lighting to create a modern setting which, though would normally be able to seat upto 180, given their Covid protocols, which include hand sanitisers and full protective regalia, can currently cater for 130.
In such spacious surroundings, there’s the main dining area to the right of the venue, with the restaurant’s bar located entirely separately to the left, and two private rooms that can hold upto 15 diners each.
We won’t be forgetting that extended sour slurp which introduced this tantalisingly refreshing Yuzo Berry Soda any time soon. It’s amazing how the citrusy strength of Yuzu can just lift what might otherwise have merely been a very good berry juice.
And though the Pink Grapefruit Cooler turned out to be a minty drink, with the light bitterness of the grapefruit lingering in the background, it paled in comparison to the standard set by the above.
A tremendous dish this, which managed to precisely balance between the two textures so indicative of a perfectly Fried Softshell Crab.
Coated in an uber light and delicately crispy batter, not only was the inside of this crustacean soft and saturated, but its accompanying mayo sauce beautifully creamy with a hint of sour to it.RECOMMENDED
Well, what do we have here? Only the best Korean Fried Wings we’ve had this year, or, dare we say, any other year!
Absolutely delightful these large crispy finger food items, which were smothered in a gorgeously rich and tangy semi-caramelised sauce, with a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds to finish off proceedings.
Simple, yet well executed balls of Corn Tempura, which were ultra crunchy without being overly so, and accompanied by a zingy vinegar dip that we weren’t ashamed to take down in one gulp when all was said and done.
FLESH & BUNSRECOMMENDED
Steamed to a tee, as light as a cloud, and as fluffy as a pillow, they were as good as you’re going to get.
Believe it or not though, they weren’t the best thing here. Rather, it was the Japanese Fried Chicken and its condiments that made this such a memorable munch.
All it took to elevate this to that unsurpassable standard was the heat from the thin slices of red chilli along with a deliciously sweet and smoky mayo sauce.
Admittedly a tad dire at almost £16, but there was no doubting the quality and the combination of flavours.
We could have devoured half-a-dozen of these and still asked for more. A triumph!RECOMMENDED
A thick patty which, to our utter surprise, sported a lick-smackingly tasty, sweet and smoky, caramelised glaze, that offered a crispy-cum-sticky textural contrast to a relatively soft and marginally gooey interior.
And with those strong heady flavours, you’ll certainly need the acidity of the pickled carrots and cucumbers to help balance things out. Arguably the most intriguing dish of the evening and one that’ll long live in the memory.
Allay any doubts you might have over whether this would work, because we certainly had to following our first bite.
A spongy and juicy mushrom that’s enveloped in a cream and chive sauce, and superbly enhanced by the gentle heat of a mild wasabi mayo, which itself is beautifully tempered by the sharp acidity of pickled red onions.
POKE DONRECOMMENDED REMOVE PONSO
Before we continue, be sure to ask for the removal of the Ponso from this colourful Spicy Tuna Sashimi, since it contains Saki (alcohol).
With that said, this is a dish served at room temperature, with some cold elements, that turned out to be one of the dishes of the review, with practically every conceivable texture and flavour accounted for.
This wasn’t just a visual treat, but a gastronomic journey of subtle shifts and variations across the lands of the sour towards the sweet seas yonder.
HOT STONE RICE
The party in this piping hot stone bowl is started firstly with the egg yolk being sliced open to allow for that silky goodness to run free, followed by a good mix of the assortment of vegetables and rice therein.
While this was a little on the spicy side, it was an enjoyable experience, with the mixture sitting in the hot pot continuing to change in texture and flavour as it carried on cooking. Having said that though, it wasn’t comparable to the afore-enjoyed Spicy Tuna Sashimi.
While traditional ones are spongy and soft in nature, Flesh & Buns offered us a version that was crispy and flaky on the outside, while being hollow on the in, and filled with just enough lightly sweetened Black Sugar Custard without being too sickly.
Despite having been rolled in plenty of sugar, this wasn’t as sweet as one would think. As such, it turned out to be quite joyful mouthfuls.
These freshly made “Croissants”, as they were called, were covered in a caramelised sugar coating, and turned out to be crunchy-crumbly packets filled with a hot Nutella sauce whose chocolatey sweetness married well with the cherry ice cream. A simple dessert; but one which we enjoyed for what it was.
NB. – The other two desserts, S’more and Fondant contain pork-based ingredients.
- YES/ YES
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED FACILITIES
- FREE WI-FI
They put up some exceptionally good selection of dishes, a few of which will likely be shortlisted for our end of year awards. The simplicity and freshness of the ingredients used, the combination of flavours, and the uniqueness of the cuisine made for a memorable visit in more ways than one.
Sadly, there's limited availability of Halal dishes, with only chicken being catered for (and even then one had alcohol in it). But, if you stick to our menu above and the advice given in the introduction of this review re non-Halal dishes and ingredients, you'll be good to go. In the meantime, here's to hoping Flesh & Buns realise the power of 'The Muslim Pound', as its been dubbed by some, and consider introducing other options in the future (their beef dishes sounded scrumptious).
In addition, there's 50% off for a lunch or early dinner until 17:30 (£10 per person) between Monday to Wednesday throughout this month of October (a discretionary service charge of 12.5% is added to all bills).
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