A review of Pop up Beer & Buns - Liverpool St 'Upstairs @ K10' 3 Appold Street, London, EC2A 2AF
Something a bit different from me today, a restaurant review. Being more specific this is a review of a popular pop up in East London: Beer and Buns. Located above permanent Japanese restaurant K10, around the back of Liverpool St. Station, Beer and Buns is modelled on a Japanese Izakaya (drinking establishment that serves food to accompany drinks). The focus then is on the consumption of alcohol over food, which, if you follow me on twitter you will know, I’m perfectly comfortable with. This prioritisation of drinking is emphasised by the fact that rather fortuitously I went on a Tuesday when drinks are 2 for 1. As the name may suggest, much like in a traditional Izakaya beverage choices favour Japanese lagers, of which they have several, from Asahi on tap, to premium Echigo Koshihikari, which is apparently imported from Japan’s first micro-brewery – whatever that means. I must confess I know fuck all about beer, nor am I interested, it all tastes like piss to me. Thankfully they have other alcoholic choices, including sake, both hot and cold, wine and frozen cocktails so I shied away from the beer and went for a Yuzu Margarita – lethal. They don’t skimp on the liquor in their drinks and the strong tequila was complimented well by the sharp Japanese citrus fruit.
The setting is suitably hipster for a place on the fringes of Old St. and Shoreditch, with Chalk boards on the walls where customers are free to scrawl whatever they wish on the walls. I learnt that this is much to the dismay of the staff who every night are required to wipe off all of the penises. People are so unimaginative. Along with its chalk board walls entertainment is provided by Fussball tables and Pinball machines meaning one can keep themselves occupied for some time, which is good because the place is open til late. I was eventually turfed out at the stroke of midnight, full of Tequila- fast becoming a standard Tuesday for me.
All the above is beating about the bush though, as it is the food that is the true star. Steamed Japanese Hirata Buns and Wings are on the menu and you want them both, believe me. I arrived at about 9:15 to hear the kitchen was soon to be closing (I’m sure it will be open later on weekends) so after a quick perusal of the menu and upon learning that my dining companion didn’t really do Hot food I ordered. The staff were forthcoming about what to get if we didn’t want things too spicy and were happy to switch things up for us to work around this. I have also seen a review elsewhere saying that they were very knowledgeable when it comes to dietary requirements which is always a plus. That being said, those of you with gluten intolerance or Coeliacs would be best advised to stay away. Between the glutinous steamed buns, the flour coating on the wings and the soy sauce in most of the produce there isn’t much for you here. Sorry guys.
On the menu they talk of their “Soft, pillow-like steamed 'Hirata' buns” and this build up doesn’t disappoint. These cloud-like celestial objects of desire, whilst doughy, are light enough that you could knock back a few before you even have a chance to realise what you’ve done. Mine were filled with Chicken Karaage w/ Japanese Yuzu Koshu slaw (their signature bun), which in layman’s terms is relatively close to Japanese KFC (I might have to copyright Karaage Fried chicken) and also Chashu Pork Belly (the Japanese version of the popular Chinese dish Char-Siu) w/ braised red cabbage & mustard mayo. Both were awesome but I’d have to say the Karaage shaded it for me. Should Pork or Chicken not be your thing for whatever reason (you silly bastard), then they also have a Duck bun (Pulled Duck leg w/ pickled cucumber, caramelised spring onion & harasame sauce) which thinking about it now I wish I had tried. Vegetarians fear not, you so often neglected beings; I am informed that the Aubergine Katsu bun w/ avocado salsa & miso sauce is a hit. At £3.50 a bun or £6.50 for two you're laughing really and you’ll struggle to have that same amount go as far at any other restaurant in the vicinity, even the Nandos.
But the wings... oh the wings!!! You may think you’ve had wings, and you may well have had good wings, but until you’ve had Korean wings you are outside the gates of heaven looking it. Korean Fried chicken is actually becoming increasingly trendy and so you won’t have to travel far to find some - usually I look for a bunch of people with check shirts, hats and ironic facial hair, works a dream. The wings at Beer and Buns come in three variations: Tebasake Soy Garlic, Sweet & Spicy, Korean Hot all of which they claim are “triple fried to perfection” and again they don't have to worry about any false advertising lawsuits. Avoiding heat I opted for the Tebasake Soy and Garlic incarnation and despite arriving smothered in glaze they remained wonderfully crispy. The sweet Garlic and Soy sauce, although when I return I shall be back for their Korean Hot flavour. That being said the Soy and Garlic wings delivered on all flavour notes, somehow managing to be sweet enough for dessert and salty enough to put your blood pressure through the roof – wings shouldn’t have to be healthy.
A thoroughly enjoyable night at a place I would highly recommend. Visit their website here