Located in the touristy maze of Seven Dials, I had heard more about the toilets at Flesh and Buns than the food. All I knew was that it was from the same guys behind Bone Daddies, my favourite ramen joint right in the heart of Soho. If Bone Daddies soothes hangovers with its steaming bowls of molten porky bones, then Flesh and Buns is the cause of those hangovers with its fiery Asian junk food that go perfectly with plenty of pints of ice cold Asahi.
Set in a dim basement with raw walls this won’t be for everybody. It opened right in the middle of this paired back back, industrial (oh how very New York) trend that us Londoners shoot our load over at the minute. But packed with the din of drunk punters on a Friday night it’s hard not to love the buzz. This probably isn’t the best place for a casual night with the missus, more a place to come after work or with a group of pals looking to kickstart a big night.
The first thing I of course did was check out the toilets. These have caused so much outrage that they’ve had their very own article on the Guardian’s website. Obviously they were clutching at straws for what to write about that week, because they aren’t worth half the scandal. So there’s a bit of anime on the walls. The person who called it hardcore porn obviously has been visiting the wrong sites. All I could think, is who really gives a shit? Ok so a cartoon schoolgirl with her titties on show is getting penetrated by an octopus. But it kind of fits the vibe. At least they don’t serve octopus on the menu. These people who complain are the same ones who write into the BBC when there’s a swear word before 9pm. There’s plenty of other places in London they can all group in, so they should jump down off their high horses and give Flesh and Buns’ porno bogs a rest.
Now to the food. To kick things off we had some Chips and Dips (£6) which had a half decent guacamole but not worth the price. They were over before they started and were little more than an average bar snack. The kimchi balls got things properly rolling though, and were bloody addictive.
Then came the Korean fried wings (£5) that were slathered in a red hot sauce. Damn these were fine. They were made for a cooling pint of beer. They are about the best snack I’ve had in London in a long time.
The soft shell crab with jalapeno mayo (£9.50) needed more spunk, but was decent enough. No match for the soft shell crab served up at Roka. Nothing has come close to knocking that from its perch.
Then came the flesh and buns part of the meal. It’s a great little invention, basically the Asian equivalent of a chip buttie. What’s better than cramming food into some stodge and shovelling it down. The crispy piglet belly (£14.50) came with a mustard miso and pickled apple and crammed into those buns was absolutely delicious. Just as good was the Flat Iron Steak (£16) with a good BBQ sauce and pickled onions. The steak was surprisingly tender and had plenty of flavour. The buns come at an extra £2.50 for two, which I feel should be included. Especially given you inevitably run out and have to order 2 more each.
The Bone Daddies Sundae (£7) was also pretty good, especially the Matcha ice cream that gave me a false burst of healthiness at the end of an deeply indulgent meal.
Apart from the service which was completely shite- they’d slam dishes down without even looking at you, and were firing out the food at indigestion pace- this is a real fiery dungeon of a restaurant, one where you can’t help but indulge and enjoy yourself. The bill came out at bang on £100, which is a bit top heavy for what is essentially Asian junk food. But I’ll still be coming back. It’s the Asian equivalent of Spuntino, a place you come when you’re in need of a guilt ridden meal, which after all are the best kind.
41 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LX