If you like your food, the chances are you’ll be on Instagram and have drooled over the photogenic Kinako French Toast with matcha ice cream. This was my sole reason for wanting to try Shackfuyu, where we hot-footed it to after checking out some impressive light installations and show in the West End as part of the Lumiere London Festival.
A sizeable queue had already formed by the time we got to Soho. Fortunately, there was enough space to wait inside, where we promptly ordered some sake to warm up. Standing at the bar meant that we saw the dishes on their way from the kitchen, so we caved in and ordered a portion of Korean-fried wings to take the edge of the hunger pangs. I’m not one for eating meat off the bone, but I was pretty peckish. These were coated in a deliciously tangy sauce and disappeared in record time, hence the lack of photo!
We were seated after an hour and so had had plenty of time to get familiar with the menu. The first sharing dishes to arrive were the Cornish crab roll, Wagyu beef tartare and Tako tacos. The crab was delicate and fresh, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like this particular crustacean. On the contrary, the tartare was rich and heavy, with the prawn crackers adding some crunchiness. The last dish in the trio was the octopus tacos accompanied by shiso avocado, raw cucumber and red onion slices and a spicy gochujang sauce. Opinion was divided as I loved the crispy tacos and ripe avocado pairing for both texture and taste, but found the octopus to be overpowering and the sauce too hot (I’m easily defeated by chillies, which never fails to amuse my parents!).
For mains, we split the hot stone rice (beef) and flat iron steak three ways, and there was plenty of both to go around. I hadn’t expected much of the former based on previous experiences, so was taken aback by the depth of flavour from the assorted vegetables, which adopt a lovely smokiness as they sizzle away. Rice can often be quite dry, and this wasn’t the case due to the slightly loose consistency. My highlight was the burnt bits stuck to the bottom as you get the intense flavours with the extra bite. The steak was equally impressive: served rare as we’d requested, covered in a sticky chipotle miso glaze and partnered with pickled onion to offset the sweetness. In short, it was delightfully moreish.
“What about the dessert”, you ask? We ordered two portions of the French toast because after all that sharing, I needed something just for me. Shackfuyu offer this one dessert only, so this bold move, combined with the social media hype, set the bar extremely high. I’m pleased to say that it doesn’t disappoint: the warm toast was sweet and buttery, the caramelised edges were sticky and crispy and the matcha ice cream was distinctly earthy. The soft serve adds a nice touch of nostalgia, too.
Shackfuyu is part of the Bone Daddies family, who have brought us ramen shops in Soho and Old Street, Flesh and Buns in Covent Garden and the latest outpost in Kensington. This former pop-up has overtaken the original ramen restaurant as my favourite as each dish exceeded my expectations and surprised my taste buds. Even though I wouldn’t order the tacos again, the quality of the ingredients can’t be faulted. The grand finale is simply a game-changer, and worth every minute of standing in line for a table. Having said that, I might just book a table in advance for next time so I can satisfy my dessert craving much sooner (the booths also look way more comfortable that the bar stools)!
Budget: £35 pp (5 small plates, 2 mains, 2 desserts, sake and 2 teas).