“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
― Kobayashi Issa, Poems
Flesh & Buns, located in Covent Garden, is a restaurant based on the idea of Japanese after work socializing and partying at Izakayas. It’s a sister project to Bone Daddies, a ramen restaurant decorated with rockabilly art and old Japanese advertising artwork. Flesh & Buns takes the food to the next level by offering more complex food while rock music blasts. Sushi and AD/DC, what is not to like!
The menu consists of mostly small plates to share (or keep for yourself, as the case may be), plus the signature “flesh and buns.” Steamed buns are constantly in production to be served along a number of kinds of meats that you can slice, dice, and shred to your heart’s content. But I get ahead of myself, because the small plates are delicious.
We sat at the long table running down the length of the restaurant (communal dining is still all the rage), tucked in our elbows to minimize damage to our neighbors, and went to town on the goods! All the dishes are based on traditional Japanese cuisine, but with gorgeous modern and fusion twists. The grilled sweet potatoes and mixed seafood ceviche were the clear winners, as far as we’re concerned.
The kitchen is open and just feet to my left, head chef Jo McCafferty was in command, with a pile of steaming bun baskets behind him. It’s fascinating to see a full kitchen in action, with various stations manned by specialist chefs producing the dishes and coordinating them into meals. It might be nerdy, but I like getting behind-the-scenes looks at things, and venues that open up the background to view are always fun to go to.
Since moving to the UK, I’ve discovered a deep and abiding love for duck (which I frankly never ate much of before), so it was an easy choice to choose the duck breast for our “flesh.” The buns were brought out piping hot and Jeff did the honors of putting the bundles of flavor together.
I know nothing about sake, but there is a lengthy selection to choose from, and for the virtuous or the disinclined toward alcohol, there are fun alternatives. And as for deserts, there are the weirdest but loveliest concoctions. I had a black sesame creme brulee, and failed utterly to take photos, while Jeff had a sundae made with tea flavored ice cream. We tend to favor solidly sweet deserts so these were a change of pace, but were unusual enough to be a lot of fun and worth a try.
Flesh & Buns, 41 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LX