Settling in nicely to its new home at the ICEBAR in Mayfair, Yuu Kitchen known for its delectable small plates inspired by the flavours of south-east Asia and the Pacific Rim is a must-add to your London foodie list.
Combining a fusion of Japanese and Hawaiian flavours with its Asian core, Yuu kitchen are certainly bringing the heat to their new home, which sits underneath the infamous ICEBAR on Heddon street and boasts a fun and playful atmosphere which is perfect for a late-night bite.
It’s hard to describe the exact amount and combinations of cuisines that are featured across their new menu with subtle nods to Head Chef Jon de Villa’s Fillipino cuisine with some of the dishes being passed down through the generations and taking influence from Indian, Chinese, Spanish and America. But regardless of where it comes from, the food most definitely speaks for itself.
The stand-out dish:
The Chicken Karaage was the perfect combination in both texture and taste. Utilising the Japanese technique of coating and frying this dish contains the most tender pieces of perfectly cooked chicken with crisp charred corners and imitating an almost battered feel. You get an instant overwhelming sense of sweetness from the honey which is slowly balanced out as the siracha increases in heat causing the entire morsel to balance out on your tongue. The Inasal was a close second. Ancho grilled chicken thigh paired with green papaya acharra sweet pickle. An absolute delight. Just the right level of smokiness had been achieved, with a crisped skin and a tender meat which worked perfectly with the sweet julienned papaya pickle – a delightful combination of sweet, crisp and smoky.
Turning our palate to the Vietnamese dish on the table, a crisped tofu spring roll was calling my name. A perfectly rolled rice paper roll filled with silken tofu which had been crisped on the outside, paired with raw carrot and dipped in homemade garlic-laden sweet chilli and soy sauce. The glutinous paper holding the entire dish together and encasing the delights inside. And for someone who has just returned from Thailand; ate spring rolls every day for lunch and dinner (with zero regrets) this recreation of a classic hit all the right familiar spots.
But it wasn’t all success – with a few dishes falling flat. The 7-up Braised Pork Belly Bao being one. The inclusion of tenderising meat with a sprite-based drink intrigued me, the classic inclusion is a cola-based version and I wanted to see if any of the citrus based notes were transferred into the meat. The answer was no. To me, it was more of a click-bait title than a flavour addition and our dish arrived with no larb or BBQ sauce that was promised, adding to the disappointment of the dish. The bao bun, although fluffy became almost undistinguishable between textures – biting through soft bun to soft meat left a rather dull and un-memorable experience in the mouth. Another let down for the entire table, was their Grilled Broccoli with Apple, Black Pepper and Crispy Onion. Out of all the dishes, this was the one I was most excited for and chose almost immediately after being shown a menu. I was expecting a chargrilled tender stem but what was received was closer to a bowl of blanched florets and you had to search deep to find a taste of the apple. The crisped shallots, however, were the star of the dish – forget about the broccoli and just add a bowl of them to the menu and you’re in for a winner.
Luckily, the Okra Fries which were served with hot smoked paprika and tangy abodo mayo gave some points back to the vegetables on the menu, after the downfall disaster with the broccoli. Now I know the word slimy is not normally something you would describe food with in a positive way, but there was something about the combination of the battered crunch with the textural sliminess of okra that just worked amazingly well. Get a bite of that smoked paprika on the outside and you were on to a winner. Now the sweet mayo… Words do not describe how delicious this was and how I now need it on every dish I eat. If they just gave me a bowl of the mayo with the crisped shallots from the previous dish, I would have been a happy girl.
Too full for desserts and needing to cool off, we headed upstairs to the ICEBAR and left my dreams of that mayo behind, but with each dish ranging between £6-£8 and each plate being generous in its serving. I definitely will be returning and suggest you do too.
Words by our girl in the smoke Amanda Bootes
Yuu Kitchen Mayfair @ ICEBAR London, 31-33 Heddon Street, London W1B 4BN