Working on Carnaby Street, I feel rather spoiled when it comes to food. I am surrounded by a ridiculous amount of fantastic restaurants which I can get to in a hop, skip and a jump. A couple of minutes walk and I am in the heart of Soho. Lunchtimes are made even better with a walk down Berwick Street to get a Savage Salad or a falafel wrap from Jerusalem Falafel, finished off with a brownie from Foxcroft & Ginger. And every time I think “I can’t believe how lucky I am to work round here.”
It also means I don’t need to worry too much about all those places that don’t take reservations as I can potentially get there at 6.05pm before the heavy queuing starts. Well, except for Bao of course. Every day I watch that queue on Lexingtonn Street get bigger and bigger and every day I put it off. Seriously, how good can it be??
Saying Shackfuyu is Japanese is almost a little misleading, especially if you go expecting bowls of ramen. This is more experimental Japanese fusion food where traditional dishes sit alongside European ones given an Asian twist.
We got there at 12.30pm and it was just as well we did. Within 15 minutes of sitting down, the place was packed. We wanted everything on the menu but decided to get six dishes between the four of us. We knew we were each getting the French toast for dessert so we had to make sure we left room for that.
The dishes come out as and when they were ready. First up were the sweet chilli soy edamame (£3.80) and the miso aubergine with bubu arare (£5.80) which are small crispy balls, a little like Rice Krispies. They’re basically a Japanese cracker made from glutinous rice and flavoured with soy sauce. They give a lovely crunch to the soft, sweet and succulent aubergine. I’m a bit of an aubergine addict so this dish was always going to win me over. I was a little hesitant with the edamame as they look bloody spicy and I’m not good with spice. However, they were sweet and sticky and had a lovely warmth to them, rather than a hot slap over the face.
Next up was the prawn toast ‘masquerading as okonomiyaki’ (£6.30), an absolutely stunning dish. Fried prawn toast topped with mayonnaise, bonito flakes and Otafuku, a thick, sweet sauce similar to Worcestershire sauce. Its absolutely glorious and something you must order if you go. I actually hated having to share it. I could have eaten about two or three portions of it on my own.
Also outstanding was the roast sweetcorn with lime butter and 7 spice pepper (£4.20). My colleagues and I have been talking about it ever since. I never thought to add lime zest to corn before but I’m going to from now on. It was so buttery and fresh and zingy, like a party in your mouth. Another must-order dish.
The Korean fried wings (£5.90) really were finger lickin good. They were big and meaty, and oh so juicy. The sauce was sweet and sticky and had a bit of a kick to it…one that seemed to grow! But it was so worth it.
Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for…the kinako french toast with soft serve ice cream (£6). This is the only dessert on the menu and for good reason…nothing can top it! I have eaten this several times since the pop-up opened earlier this year and my Instagram feed was immediately flooded with filtered images of it.
Its a huge slab of sticky, buttery, crispy-edged, soft-centred wonderfulness served with a swirl of green tea ice cream. Now I’m going to say something rather controversial here as it seems I’m the only person who feels this way…I don’t like the ice cream. At all. It feels powdery and bitter in my mouth. I find this with all green tea ice creams I try and its clearly just a personal thing as everyone else loves it. Whenever I mention I don’t like it people look at me as I’ve just stated I enjoy kicking puppies! So whenever I have this, I just have the toast on its own, although I’m half tempted to bring in a pot of clotted cream one day as I’m dying to see how that would taste. (Clue: friggin incredible!)
Shackfuyu literally translates into ‘winter shack’. It opened in February of this year and was only ever due to be open for one year, closing in February 2016. I really hope it doesn’t, its just too good an addition to Soho’s eating scene to close. Just in case they really do close it, there are still a few months left to delight in their menu. Even if you don’t fancy the savoury stuff (are you mad?!), please go for the French toast.