Sunday, November 24, 2013

Flesh and Buns: Worth The Hype?

Still on a high from my amazing ramen conquest at Tonkotsu East, I headed to another much-hyped Japanese restaurant, Flesh and Buns, in Covent Garden. A product of ramen kings Bone Daddies, Flesh and Buns is famed for its mouth-watering meaty dishes as much as it's known for its cheeky name.

I arrived for my booking at 7 to have a catch-up meal with Leah, an MHC alum who had recently moved back to London. It was lively at that point in the evening - a few large tables were celebrating birthdays, and parties of two were seated in the center of the restaurant at a long, communal table, so it ended up being kind of a shouty conversation, rather than a quiet kind of chat. We were shown to a shared booth (this is important to know if you don't like eating with strangers at your elbow - it's a very common occurrence at canteen-style Asian restaurants) where we were advised to order 3-4 small dishes to share, and a main of flesh and buns to split as well. The homemade buns are sold separately to the meat dishes at 2 for £2.50 (and it was recommended to order 2 buns per person), with the mains priced at £13 upwards, with the lamb chops and sirloin steak coming in as the priciest at £19.50.

After catching up on Leah's celebrity spots in her new neighborhood of Belsize Park, we settled down to order some edamame beans, softshell crab roll (£9), and chicken skewers (I can't remember the name!) to start, followed by crispy duck for our main event. When the crab roll and skewers arrived, I was immediately struck by how small the portion size was. The crab roll allowed for 2.5 pieces each and one chicken skewer per person. I wasn't too impressed with the chicken either, which, while tasty, didn't amount to more than small pieces of chicken flame-grilled and dipped in teriyaki sauce. Nevertheless, I decided to hold out for the crispy duck leg flesh and buns, served with sour plum soy with beetroot pickle and cucumber and lettuce. When it came to the table, I again couldn't help but drop my mouth open in bewilderment. Here was one, single duck leg with some plum sauce and beetroot pickle, for £13.50. It just seemed a bit much to me. We polished that off quickly, and were satisfactorily full. Our bill came to £40 (including service, excluding drinks - we had water), which really surprised me for the quality and quantity of food we were served.

Still, my mind flashed back to the extravagant brunch John and I had just a month ago at Duck & Waffle, where the flavors were truly extraordinary and worth every penny. The meal I had that evening at Flesh and Buns was most definitely very ordinary and unfortunately missed the mark on both quantity and quality. I don't think I'll be going back any time soon, though it does look like a fun (if not expensive) place to stumble into after a late night with a large group of friends.

Square Meal

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