The secret's out… I am a self-confessed sushi fanatic. So, when I heard that Japanese gem Flesh & Buns was opening a new restaurant in the heart of Kensington, you didn’t have to ask me twice. Touting a menu filled with izakaya and Nikkei-inspired eats, I was pretty eager to see what this spot had in store for us foodies.
Although the restaurant was a little quiet (it was early Monday evening), it didn’t take away from the ambience. When we entered, we were met with chic contemporary interiors, including a swanky bar, equipped with a bootload of booze. Alongside a modern dining space with teal leather booths, funky hanging lanterns and a ceiling adorned with atmospheric pink neon lights, this haunt really has great low-key feels - making it ideal for date night.
We started our evening off in the best way… with cocktails. I opted for the signature lucky cat (£13.40), with vodka, peach, cranberry, and a glug of prosecco. It was probably one of the most extra drinks on the menu, served in the cutest feline-shaped cup with a sparkler. My other half chose a new fashioned (£10.20), made from the smoothest sesame-infused Japanese whiskey, garnished with orange - it was simple, yet sophisticated. While sipping on our drinks, we delved into some of the best sushi I’ve eaten in a while. The salmon and avocado rolls (£10.50) had the perfect mix of creaminess from the buttery-soft fish, yet, with a slight pop of citrus enhanced by the yuzu mayo. These complemented the spicy tuna rolls (£11.30), which had a little bit of chilli heat, followed by a satisfying crunch from the daikon pickle. Yum.
We then moved onto a couple of their small plates, and were drawn to the oh-so-tender fried squid (£10.50), which didn’t fail to disappoint, with its crunchy batter, and a generous helping of fresh chillis on top. We then picked the chicken yakitori (£7), which was sticky and succulent, with a nice char flavour and texture from the grill.
We couldn’t go to Flesh & Buns without trying out their signature mains, so, we opted for their grain-fed ribeye steak (£27.70) served with BBQ sauce, red onion, and shiitake pickle, which was succulent and cooked to our preferred medium-rare. Followed by the real star of the show, their BBQ beef short rib (£30.90), which fell off the bone, and was perfectly paired with a sweet Korean dipping sauce. The process of assembling the ‘flesh’ in the soft and fluffy bao buns was fun, and allowed us to pick and choose our flavour combinations. We then washed down the dishes with a bottle of Catena Appellation Vista Flores malbec (£43), a full-bodied red, with layered notes of plum and spices - the ideal accompaniment to our beef.
It would be a crime not to finish off the night with something sweet, so we went straight for the kinako donuts (£8.30), a bowl of bite-sized treats filled with a moreish black sugar custard (you can’t go wrong, right?) We also chose the salted caramel chocolate fondant (£8.30), which had an indulgent gooey centre, served alongside a matcha ice cream, that balanced the richness with its nuttiness and umami profile.
The DesignMyNight Digest
If you're a fan of Japanese cuisine, you can't really go wrong with Flesh & Buns. With a crackin' menu filled with sushi, bao buns and rice dishes, this is definitely a great eatery if you fancy a little bit of everything. Although the mains we chose were a little steep for casual (ish) dining, there are also plenty of rice dishes (poke don), that are a little more budget-friendly.
💰 The damage: £203.73 for two, including service charge.
📍 The location: 1a Phillimore Gardens, London, W8 7QB
👌 Perfect for: Dinners with friends or date night.
⭐ Need to know: You can also just pop in for drinks in their chic bar space.