After hearing that hirata buns were the headline I couldn’t wait to get down to the Flesh & Buns basement in Covent Garden. This is the second chapter from chef Ross Shonhan, more famously known for Bone Daddies ramen bar rubbing shoulders with likes of Tonkotsu et al over in Soho. The chef/owner is formally of Zuma and Nobu so he knows a thing or 2 about modern Japanese cuisine.
The feel that best describes this place as I walk in is well – Bone Daddies but on a larger scale, think shabby chic and you’re there;
Soft 80’s rock anthems in the background with a fun, casual dining experience with small plates and a decent sakes available, you really can’t go wrong in the current foodie fad. There are a myriad of small plates, from sushi, sashimi, tempura, yakitori and some fun deserts (my meal was sans pudding as I was saving room for Shoryu ramen!). Check it out;
To kick things off we go for the eel cucumber roll and softshell crab role which are a delight but at 10 and 9 pounds respectively it’s pushing onto Zuma and Nobu territory, sadly it doesn’t warrant the price they command.
I’m here for the hirata though, for those in the the know, an explanation isn’t necessary but those who aren’t they are steamed, chewy, fluffy pockets of sweet dough used for filling. Their clam-shell shape formed with a simple fold before going into the bamboo steamer, which is brought to your table with your ‘flesh’ of choice. The family on the other end of our table ordered more buns that arrived within a couple of minutes which I I thought was a great selling point. The flesh we opted for was the braised pork belly and grilled sea bass.
Food porn hirata style!
Here is a pic of the bass. The flavours were lovely, crisp skin with hints of sweet miso with a side dish of kimchi and tomato salsa – purists would disagree! At 14 quid a pop it really lacks bang for you buck – but this is Covent Garden remember?
Here is the braised pork with a condiments of mustard miso and slices of pickled apple. It was the perfect accompaniment for those little fluffy steamed pockets of joy. Juicy, sweet and just damn good.