Age: 30. Really.
Previous incarnation: Who knows? We certainly weren’t around back then.
Where exactly is it? Head down Kentish Town Road, past Arancini Brothers, Lazy Hunter and the glorious Anima e Cuore. It’s the bit that visiting folk might call Camden but that we all know is still 100% KT.
So what goes on there? Pioneering pan-Asian fusion cuisine. And they’ve been dishing it up for way longer than almost any other upstart. It’s worth adding that the food has seriously improved over the years: back in the late 90s, this was a basic fiver-a-meal BYO student joint.
What do I eat now? Imaginative delicacies from Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines – at the last count. On our most recent visit, despite the kitchen being about to close, we scoffed the signature wasabi prawn tempura (sweet, juicy and fiery in equal measure) with mango salsa, followed by steamed gyoza with chicken and coriander. Oh, and then a couple of good-sized pillowy bao buns, filled with duck confit and tofu respectively. Also recommended? Sweet potato nori fries with coriander aioli. Plus noodle dishes, laksa and curries by the shedload. Phew.
What do I drink? There are the usual soft drinks, but as it’s BYO everybody – and we mean everybody – brings a ton of wine to plough through. Even a guy eating dinner solo was halfway through his bottle. So the convenience store two doors down does a brisk trade in overpriced plonk (around a tenner for an average bottle). Our advice? Hit a real off licence (like nearby Caps and Taps, or Drinkers’ Paradise) first. And remember corkage is £3 a pop.
The interior: discuss. In a word: rammed. Always. And you never really want to sit in the basement, so best to go early or late unless you book ahead. And while we’re on the subject of interiors, a small point: what’s happened to the wooden crates, neons and dangling lights creating a lovely rosy glow? The back counter has been stripped and cleared out leaving a rather stark, overly bright café-like feel to the place. Let’s hope it’s still work in progress.
What’s the service like? Fine, in a functional, slightly weary way (as if every customer is nothing more and nothing less than the latest in a very long line). But it’s swift and polite enough.
Do say: “You were pioneers on this stretch y’know.”
Don’t say: “Can I pay by card?”