Australian chef Ross Shonhan launched Flesh & Buns Fitrzovia this week, five years after the first iteration of the bao-centric restaurant launched in Covent Garden.
Founder Shonhan has an impressive CV, having held chef roles at Noma, Zuma, Asia de Cuba and The Dorchester before launching his first solo restaurant (the first iteration of ramen restaurant Bone Daddies).
In-keeping with the design of the group’s other restaurants, the interior of the site is designed in the style of the traditional izakaya. Split into three sections by Japanese-inspired wood panelling, the 170-cover restaurant is vast, despite occupying just one ground-floor site. Fifteen seats line the bar, while counter seating for 22 diners is available by the open kitchen. An 18-cover private dining room – modelled loosely on the low-tabled, chairless Japanese tea rooms – is available to book for private functions. The lighting is low, giving the room an intimate feel in the evening, while in the daytime large windows provide a good level of natural night.
Although bao buns are still on the menu at the new site, Shonhan has made the decision to take the Fitzrovia restaurant’s menu in a slightly different direction by adding Peruvian influences to the offer. The restaurant’s new woodfired smoker is used for dishes such as chilli miso Wagyu brisket with miso barbecue sauce; and smoked beef tongue with red onion pickle. Nikkei influences are seen in the raw section of the menu, which comprises the likes of shellfish cevice with leche de tigre; trout tiradito with fried plantain, lemon cress, lemon oil, aji Amarillo kabosu and leche de tigre; and spicy tuna sushi with pickled daikon. As at the restaurant’s other sites, bamboo steamers are delivered to the table, along with plates of leaves, cucumber and shiso, to be wrapped around the likes of rabbit katsu with curry mayonnaise. Desserts such as rice pudding with yuzu marmalade; and Nutella croissant tai yaki with milo soft serve continue the restaurant’s fusion theme.
One of the restaurant’s quirks is its ‘Press for Pisco’ ordering system. In a similar way to Bob Bob Ricard, tables are all fitted with buttons which can be used to summon a server, wheeling a trolley of the necessary ingredients to make pisco sours with. The drinks offering also includes Japanese influences, such as an impressive selection of Japanese whiskies and warm sake on tap, and the signature yuzu margarita is still on the menu.
And another thing:
Flesh & Buns is the third brand in Shonhan’s portfolio, which also includes six Bone Daddies ramen restaurants and one Japanese restaurant called Shack Fuyu. Last year Big Hospitality's sister publication MCA reported that Shonhan was thought to be working on creating a more premium Japanese steak restaurant in Mayfair, but to date no further details of the project have been released. Despite his obsession with ramen, Shonhan had originally intended to make his debut restaurant a high-end Japanese steakhouse – 100 covers, £80 to £100 spend per head - but could not find a site large enough to house the concept at the time.