Flesh & Buns is part of the Bone Daddies group, specialising in Japanese food and, more specifically at Flesh & Buns, Japanese drinking food. Since we enjoyed our visit to Japanese drinking food hotspot Beer & Buns so much, we decided a visit to review Flesh & Buns in Covent Garden should be a priority. I’d been once before to have their tasting menu with a friend when I first moved to London and enjoyed it, but Paul had never been.
We went on a Friday afternoon at 2.30pm, so as you can imagine it wasn’t packed – especially as they shut the kitchen at 3pm until 5pm. We decided not to go for the tasting menu this time and to just order from the normal menu. They offer quite a few different set menus from £30-45 and the tasting menu is £40 per person if you did fancy trying it. The normal menu is split into a few different sections: snacks, raw, rolls, small dishes, rice, flesh & buns and desserts.
From the snack section we chose some fried squid with Japanese pepper and lime (£8.80). It was really tasty, with a well-spiced crispy batter that wasn’t greasy and decorated with green peppers. It was really tasty but for me I definitely could have done with some sort of dip to accompany it. They do have soy on the tables which we did dunk some of them in though.
From the raw section we ordered the butterfish tataki (£9.40). I’d never had butterfish (or tataki, actually) before and I enjoyed it. The taste wasn’t overly fishy and it was a nice light dish to start.
We ordered soft shell crab rolls (£9.20) with jalapeno mayo and chives and salmon avocado rolls (£7.40) with asparagus, daikon cress and yuzu mayo. The softshell crab ones were quite messy to eat on account of the claws sticking out of the top, but once you manoeuvred them into your mouth they were delicious. Again, the batter wasn’t at all greasy. The salmon avocado rolls were delicious, they tasted so fresh. I couldn’t have told you there was asparagus or daikon cress in there but the yuzu mayo added a nice zing.
Flesh & buns
Now for the main event. They bring the “flesh” on a large sharing plate and then you order the buns separately, depending how many you’d like for the table. The buns are £2 for 2 and they recommend about 2 per person. They’re slightly larger than some steamed buns I’ve had in other restaurants and come freshly made in the basket.
We chose the braised ox cheek with kimchee, shallot pickle and a coriander shiso sauce (£14.30) and the crispy duck leg with plum sauce (£14.60). Both were wonderful. The duck is shredded at the table in front of you with forks and there’s a generous amount of both meats. We started with 2 buns each, but ordered another one each. The ox cheek was really saucy and I loved the shallot pickle. The duck was less saucy but equally delicious with parts that were crispy and parts that were soft. The plum sauce was sweet but not sickly sweet like some. They also bring over some salad leaves and cucumber slices to go in your buns, which is a must for me or I just find the bun and meat combination too clogging.
We were too full for dessert this time but I’m going to tell you about the one I had before – one that Flesh & Buns are quite famous for. Their Smores (£8) are on the main menu and are also the dessert on the tasting menu. It’s passionfruit marshmallows with slabs of almond chocolate and graham crackers. You toast them over an open flame at your table and then sandwich it all together in a big gooey mess. I remember the marshmallows being very fruity and the chocolate being really rich and all together it was a fabulous dessert. It’s fun and delicious in equal measure.
Flesh & Buns is a great casual dining spot. It’s definitely more of a proper restaurant, less casual (and pricier) than Beer & Buns. The food is great and it’s well worth a visit. The buns are particularly lovely and it’s a good place for a group meal as everything is ideal for sharing. The tasting menu covers a good selection and is a decent introduction if you’re not sure what to order. If you want more flexibility, want to be a bit more adventurous or have been before, I recommend ordering from the main menu.
Price: ££ (around £100 for two of us with a cocktail each and sharing everything.)
Nearest tube: Covent Garden (but Tottenham Court Road is easily walkable too)
Where’s your favourite place to eat in and around Covent Garden? Let me know in the comments below.