Earlier this year, DesignMyNight HQ moved to Aldgate. We were in Hoxton long enough to know the area like the back of our hands (and when I say Hoxton, what I really mean is Howl at the Moon - their pints are chef's kiss). Before we left behind our cliche office - hipster foosball table and Jäger machine included - to go work amongst the skyscrapers, our Marketing & PR Executive created an office guide covering her top picks for our new home; which brings me to tell you about a little place called Yuu Kitchen.
Yuu Kitchen is an award-winning Pan-Asian restaurant and you’ll find it sandwiched along London’s Commercial Street with other notable names like The Culpeper (one of the city’s most sustainable rooftops) and Detroit Pizza. With a high caliber of grub in such a small stretch, Yuu Kitchen didn’t waste a second in understanding the assignment: stand out or stand down.
Walking into Yuu Kitchen at 6.30pm on a Tuesday afternoon, it wasn’t busy but there was a lot going on in the way of interiors. Steel industrial pipes sit alongside a vast collection of dangling wooden bird cages, vibrant cartoon illustrations snake their way along the walls, and long, tall tables come split to accommodate all kinds of group sizes. This lot wasted no time in making its own stamp in this neck of the woods and it doesn’t stop at the unique interiors either. If you’re feeling extra (and your phone has enough battery), you can print your own face onto one of their bao buns. We didn’t opt for this on the day (I didn’t quite feel like eating myself), but the regular bao buns sans our smiling heads turned out to be just as impressive. The bread was pillow soft to your fingertips but sturdy enough to house thick fillings and sticky sauces.
Our waitress for the evening recommended between three and four plates each, so we had no qualms when ordering one bao each for the table, with the promise of going halves on each. The wagyu (£10.50) was very tender and on a bed of garlic mayo, topped with mizuna leaves, onion and fried shallots; the pork belly (£8.80) was dressed with BBQ sauce, cucumber pickles, and a sprinkling of bubuarare that added a surprising crunch, but the buttermilk chicken (£7) was the biggest on flavour thanks to the kick from Sriracha mayo, the thin slices of daikon pickles and chili.
Keeping in with the theme of spice, the dynamite shrimp (£8) came slathered in a spicy mayo sauce and the portion was incredible value for money. Like any sharing concept, the plates only come out from the kitchen when they’re ready. Fingertips sucked clean, we picked up our chopsticks to tweeze the scallop and prawn gyoza (£9.50) into a dark pond of ginger and ponzu sauce. The crunchy batter hid a steaming pocket of chopped and perfectly cooked shellfish and after picking up a pink slice of the duck breast (£14), the contrast in consistency between the two dishes was a fantastic reminder to how well the duck was cooked. Disappointingly, the adobo wings (£9.50) - that were a mixture of drums and flats - weren’t as thick and meaty as I’d have anticipated. On the other end of the spectrum, the short ribs (£14) were a beast in their own right. I don’t know how long they were slow cooked for but what I do know is that the meat fell apart quicker than I did watching the last scene of My Sister’s Keeper. In-between all our munching, we - to our complete surprise - had a secret dish arrive to our table ad it's legit nowhere to be seen on the menu. If you're brave enough, try and order the wagyu cheesy cheeseburger rolls from one of the waiters and see what happens. You won't regret it.
Being a Tuesday afternoon, we turned the pages of the menu in search of some mocktails with Asian flair. Craving something refreshing to cool down from all that spice, the virgin mojito (£7.50) with mint leaves, lime, and ginger beer was bang on the money and worth every bit of the price tag. The combination of ingredients worked together and the fire from the ginger beer was a fantastic substitute for something boozy.
The DesignMyNight Digest
In between unpacking boxes and wondering where the hell all your stuff is, moving to a new area is always fun. You get a fresh playground of bars and restaurants to swing and slide through and Yuu Kitchen turned out to be one of the first rides we went on. There’s no doubt about it that it’s a great spot for a quick bite to eat, especially if you’re in the mood for a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The secret dish arriving to our table was a lovely touch and very much felt like VIP treatment. The staff were incredibly attentive too, and the restaurant has lots going on throughout the week, from happy hour deals to bottomless brunch on the weekends; not to mention the whole printing of your own face on a bao bun thing. There’s still plenty to explore in our new postcode but Yuu Kitchen turned out to be a pretty great place to start.
💰 The damage: £103 for dinner and a round of mocktails.
📍 The location: 29 Commercial St, E1 6NE.
👌 Perfect for: bao fans and those evenings where you want a little bit of everything.
⭐ Need to know: Every Tuesday to Friday from 6pm for just £30 per person, you can scoff bottomless bao.