Updated: May 13, 2022
My most recent eat out experience took me back to one of my favourite London places - Soho. I never need an excuse to go there but as I had to buy some cooking ingredients from Chinatown, it was a no-brainer to tack on a visit to a restaurant. So I found myself on a Thursday lunchtime at Shack Fuyu. Shack Fuyu is tucked away at the east end of Old Compton Street, so it's a step away from the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue and only a couple of minutes more from Covent Garden. The restaurant describes itself as "popup that went permanent" back in 2015. According to Shack Fuyu's website, the menu is "Inspired by Japanese Yoshoku food, the Western-influenced cooking style popular in Japan." I think the restaurant is owned by the same people who run the Bone Daddies ramen franchise. I've read some very good things about Shack Fuyu, so I went along looking forward to an interesting dining experience.
The interior of Shack Fuyu has a bit of a tardis feel about it. The frontage is small but the restaurant goes a long way back once you walk inside. The front of the place is dominated by a long bar with seating for about 15 people to enjoy a pre-food (or pre-theatre) drink. Further back, there is table seating for around 60 diners. Shack Fuyu tips its hat to Japanese culture with a lot of empty sake bottles adorning the bar and some small Japanese film poster art from the 70's and 80's but there is no definable Japanese vibe about the place, but hey, it's the food that counts, isn't it!
We were shown to a table just behind the bar. The table was clean if a little stained here and there. The waitress service was pleasant and happy to wait while my co-diner and I decided what we wanted to eat. Any allergies? Only to bad food - but we were assured that we wouldn't get a reaction to the food at Shack Fuyu. Two minor criticisms to log here - 1 - the tap water we ordered didn't arrive and I had to remind the waitress once we had started our meal. 2 - the waitress advised us that our orders would arrive in whatever order the chef made them. I have to confess I found this a little bit "Michelin Star" pretentious.
What did we eat?
We ordered the following:
Aubergine with Miso
Kimchi Hot Stone Rice (photo left)
Grilled Salmon fillet
Side bowl of white rice
The Aubergine with Miso arrived first and we had finished it by the time dish #2 the Tenderstem Broccoli arrived, followed shortly thereafter by the Hot Stone Rice. The final dish, the grilled Salmon Fillet came about 10 minutes later.
How did the food score?
Aubergine with Miso & Bubu Arare. 8/10
Baked aubergine in miso sauce is quite a common dish in Japan. The Shack Fuyu interpretation of the dish adds a sprinkling of bubu arare and a garnish of rocket leaves with some shredded nori. If the mention of bubu arare has you scratching your head, they are tiny little granules of popped rice. (Think of a savoury version of your childhood Rice Krispies and you'll be on the right track.) My first impression was that what the Shack Fuyu menu describes as a "small plate" was indeed a very small plate. The thought "..this is what I get for £8.50?" passed through my mind. Four small pieces of baked aubergine. Visually, I thought the plate looked a bit of a mess - too much rocket covering the aubergine and miso. And taste-wise? Now, that was a different story - small size notwithstanding, the dish was delicious. The miso sauce was just right with a perfect balance between sweetness and the salty flavour of the miso and the aubergine was perfectly baked, soft and silky with just a little bite left in the skin. I think the bubu arare popped rice is there to provide a little contrast to the softness of the aubergine but I would have happily eaten this dish without it.
Conclusion: Taste-wise, I couldn't fault this dish - it was very good. For £8.50 however, Shack Fuyu might like to reconsider the size of their portions! The restaurant's Instagram site has a photo of this dish and the portion looks a lot more substantial than the one delivered to our table!
Tenderstem Broccoli 5/10
Shack Fuyu's Tenderstem Broccoli is described as coming with a Wafu (Japanese style) dressing and sesame seeds. The allergens section advises that the dish contains yuzu kosho which is a condiment blend of citrus, garlic, chilli and salt. My tenderstem broccoli was delivered on a small, very hot, cast iron skillet - it looked a little untidy. The Wafu dressing in this case seemed to be a blend of pulped daikon, soy sauce and the yuzu kosho. There was another flavour that was quite front and centre. It tasted a little like beef stock. I was wondering whether it was part of the dressing or some residual flavour from the hot cast iron - frequently used cast iron skillets can develop their"own flavour" over time. I couldn't tell where the flavour was coming from but I have to admit, it was unexpected and I did find it a little off-putting. The tenderstem broccoli itself was fine - well prepared and pleasant to eat. A shame about the confused flavours in the dressing but maybe that's just me.
Conclusion: The serving was small (again) but not so startlingly small as the Aubergine in Miso and probably spot on for the price. If the beefy flavour is intentional, I don't think I would order this a second time.
Kimchi Hot Stone Rice 7/10
The Kimchi Hot Stone Rice was delivered in a piping hot stone bowl. The inspiration for this dish is Korean style bibimbap (which literally means "mixed rice".) The dish had a raw egg sat in the centre - the idea being that you stir the egg in to the dish and the heat of the bowl cooks it in situ. Arranged around the raw egg were the other ingredients - the kimchi, a portion of edamame, some mushroom with sesame, some carrot, roast sweetcorn and chopped spring onion. The dish also benefitted from a liberal sprinkling of shredded nori. I dutifully stirred in my egg and took a bite. First impressions were very good. Just enough kimchi to give the bowl its signature chilli heat. I happily ate my way though the entire bowl. All the other ingredients added their own particular flavour and texture to the dish. Had I wanted more heat in the dish, I could have stirred in a little chilli oil from the small jar on the table, but the mix in the bowl was just right for me. In contrast to Shack Fuyu's "small plate" starters, the Kimchi Hot Stone Rice was an ample serving and I found myself satisfied before I got to the bottom of the bowl.
Conclusion: Flavourful and filling and great value for money.
Teriyaki Grilled Salmon Fillet 8/10
The teriyaki salmon fillet was the most expensive dish we ordered. My co-diner had to order an additional side bowl of rice as it wasn't included in the salmon dish. For £15.75, this had better be good, I was thinking. I was initially surprised when it arrived at the table - it looked quite overdone and not that appetising. The salmon was accompanied by small servings of pickled carrot and fried spring onion. Taste-wise, the salmon was actually very good - the teriyaki flavour was spot on, not at all sweet but rich and with a smoky quality to it that I liked. I still think it was somewhat overdone - (compare the "real thing" above with the item on Shack Fuyu's Instagram page) - but it was certainly very satisfying to eat. The portion of salmon was just about right-sized, but for the price, I think I would have expected at least a portion of rice.
Aubergine with Miso £ 8.50
Tenderstem Broccoli £ 5.50
Hot Stone Rice £ 9.50
Grilled Salmon fillet £ 15.75
Bowl of white rice £ 3.00
Total £ 42.25 + 12.5% service
Summary: I came away from Shack Fuyu happy with what I had eaten and I might have to return to sample some more of their interesting dishes. The restaurant itself boasts a pleasant environment and the staff were welcoming and friendly. My "did not likes" were the size of the portions for the price and the fact that one dish appeared overdone and two others weren't presented with very much presentational care. I know a restaurant can be a busy environment but it was early Thursday lunch and Shack Fuyu wasn't that busy.
Food: ★★★☆☆ Ambience: ★★★★☆ Value for Money: ★★☆☆☆
You can find Shack Fuyu at 14A Old Compton St, London W1D 4TJ. Reservations via
thefork.co.uk and delivery via Ubereats and deliveroo
(PS: the restaurants I review are unaware that I am reviewing their fare and service. I pay for what I eat. My opinions are honest and unbiased....)
But why not make it yourself?
We all love to dine out. But don't forget you can make Japanese food at home which will not only taste as good or better than what you eat out (or order in) and for a fraction of the cost too! I've listed two recipes below for items I ordered during my review. Why not give them a try? Just follow the links to the written recipes and Youtube tutorials.
Recipe #1 : Shack Fuyu's Kimchi Hot Stone Rice made for a tasty, filling lunch. It's a deriviation of the Korean dish bibimbap. If you want to find a great, easy to prepare at home bibimbap recipe, then look no further. If you want to mimic the Shack Fuyu recipe I ate, then simply swap out the spicy minced beef for a portion of kimchi. My recipe uses a fried rather than raw but that's up to you. (Personally, I think the fried egg works better.) Click Bibimbap for my recipe. If you want to see my Youtube tutorial, you can just click on Bibimbap here. Try this out and see which you prefer!
Recipe #2 : Shack Fuyu's grilled teriyaki Salmon tasted very good albeit it looked a little too charred for my liking. My fried Salmon Teriyaki recipe is certainly a feast for the eyes and IMHO tastes every bit as good as Shack Fuyu's dish. What's more, you can make it for a whole lot less. (You get free rice too!) You can find my recipe for making your own version by clicking Salmon Teriyaki. If you only want to check out the Youtube tutorial, you can also click Salmon Teriyaki.
About the reviewer.
Hi, I'm Kurumi, a cooking writer and blogger. I'm Japanese but have lived in London for the last 30 thirty years. Back in the days before the internet, I was a food writer. My first book published in English was called Japanese Cooking for Two which I wrote in 1994. It has become the 9th best selling Japanese cookbook ever… yaaay!
My other books were ‘The Noodle Cookbook”, “The Soy for Health Cookbook” and “Healthy Noodles.” I also published a book in Japanese “English Home Cooking”. Then I had children and my life changed!
By the time my children had grown up, the world had changed quite a lot too! Internet, Youtube, Insta etc. So, these days, instead of books, I publish recipe and articles on my website and on my Youtube channel. I hope you'll check out my recipes - they are all tried and tested (some more times than I care to mention!) until I think you will get them right first time when you make them and enjoy eating them.
If you’d like to read more about me or my books, then copy and paste the link here:
Happy eating! Kurumi XXXX.