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Shackfuyu, Soho

Shackfuyu is a twelve month pop up on Soho's Old Compton Street from the Bone Daddies lot. I've not been to Bone Daddies as ramen is just not my thing, but I loved loved loved their other one - Flesh and Buns - remember? Who can forget that crispy piglet belly? Shackfuyu is doing something in a similar vein; it's worldy Japanese style junk food sharing style. A quick phonecall established they were baby buggy friendly (unlike a lot of the Soho basement type places cropping up), so I decided it was perfect for a quick lunch with my fellow food loving friend Charlotte.

Shackfuyu is one of those irritating no-bookings places, but thankfully you can reserve yourself a table at lunchtime. Turns out there was no need, as there were maybe only two other tables dining when we were there and it's actually a really big place. The interior is cool, casual and minimalist and completely at odds with the welcoming friendliness of the waiter who greeted us and made us comfortable in the window.

Though tempted by the impressive array of cocktails, we opted for a coupe of prosecco each to whet our appetites whilst we made sense of the menu. It's mostly a small plates deal, with a few bigger dishes thrown in for good measure as well as a smaller list of the day's specials. Charlotte is seriously intolerant to gluten, so sadly this limited a lot of the menu for her, but to be honest we had so much to catch up on that eating was secondary anyway.

We ordered the hot stone rice with chilli, beef and goma tare, and then the cauliflower with orange miso ponzu between us and I couldn't resist getting the excellently named prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki. Here's the hot stone rice:

Essentially its a bi-bim-bap which the waiter mixes at the table, served in a smoking volcanic bowl. It was good but not great, considering that this is one of the dishes that has received a lot of attention on social media. The beef was really special but there was not enough of it - and we aren't even massive eaters (believe it or not!) and the dish was hugely dominated by rice.

The cauliflower was a different story, and despite the kitchen having to slightly adapt the dish to suit Charlotte's GF needs, there was plenty of flavour with an unusual umami tang to compliment the gently roasted florets. I'm a cauliflower obsessive and this dish really opened my eyes as to how well it lends itself to orange pairings. Sorry for the appalling photo:

Unsurprisingly, the star of the show was the prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki. This dish is rapidly gaining celebrity status online, and for good reason. Thankfully it is nothing like the sesame prawn toast shipped in frozen to your local dodgy Chinese takeaway and deep fried. Sure, there is the pleasing sticky note of naughtiness in there, and the sweetness of plump prawns is unmistakable implanted into fried carboyhdrate. But. The fluorescent MSG ridden sweet and sour flabbiness is absent and instead crisp toast has a happy savoury finish, heightened by shavings of tissue thin dried young tuna. Sounds weird, tastes fabulous. We struggled to place it aside from recognising a deep kind of meatiness. The dish is shown in the title shot, but sadly it is impossible to catch a glimpse of the toast itself under the flurry of okonomiyaki. Thought that is, of course, the point.

It was a shame we weren't hungrier, as the miso aubergine is widely reported to be tremendous and I must say I wouldn't mind giving their beef picanha a go either. Next time, next time.

This lot plus two glasses of prosecco and service set me back £30, which I think we'll all agree is a fair price, though I'd dread the bill if eating tapas style over lethal Japanese cocktails. You'd order everything.

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