Friday, 5 July 2019

A n-ICE introduction to Yuu kitchen's new residency at ICEBAR London

On what felt like one of the hottest days of the year so far, and after sweltering at our company's sports day in Regent's park, my invite to ICEBAR couldn't have come at a better time. The event in question was the launch of Yuu Kitchen's new residency in swanky Mayfair at ICEBAR London.


Stupidly my first thought was "isn't the food going to be a little on the cold side?"...however I can confirm that the food itself is NOT ice cold, nor is it served in the actual ICEBAR (you eat downstairs in a separate section of the venue). When you book on the website here, you have the option to book just a dinner reservation, or dinner combined with the ICEBAR experience (I personally recommend the latter because when in Rome!).

First on the agenda that evening: seek out the nearest bar.

There are three bars located on site. One on the ground floor as you enter. I loved the reclaimed wood around the bar and the sultry dim lighting with the occasional lantern here and there. Here we enjoyed an initial beer and glass of wine.


ICEBAR is located upstairs as well as another bar which I hadn't heard of before: FIREBAR (more on both of these later). We started out at the ground floor bar (conveniently where most of the food was!). On entry we were given colour-coded wristbands which indicated which time slot you had for the ICEBAR.


We didn't have too long a wait, but there was just enough time to work our way through a few items from Yuu Kitchen's latest menu. Here's what we ate:

BAO BUNS


All hail the fluffiest of bao buns with crispy tofu, kimchi and kimchi mayo. I usually find tofu a little plain and underwhelming, but this was actually one of my favourite dishes of the night. Having the tofu crispy gave it a far nicer texture and with kimchi and kimchi mayo, it packed a punch and was far from boring.

SPICY SALMON (?)


I'm still not 100% sure what I ate, but I feel like it was the salmon with crispy rice, avocado and spicy jalapeno dressing. This is something I have had before and admittedly it's never been one of my favourites. Saying that, I enjoyed it much more this time around. My complaint with it before was the texture of the rice cake that the fish sits on, but this is much nicer now (much crispier!). The base is now more of a hash brown / tater tot consistency and paired against the freshness of the fish, it's a marriage made in heaven.

BISTEK


Sirloin steak, again sitting atop crispy rice not too dissimilar in texture to a hash brown / tater tot, with a trio of onions. Bit of a blurred shot I'm afraid (you have to get in there quickly when everything is being snatched up before your eyes!). This was one item from the Filipino section of their menu, which is based on traditional dishes and ingredients from the Philippines. SO SO GOOD.

CHEESE BURGER SPRING ROLLS


One of the items I was most intrigued by on the night was a Yuu kitchen classic: East meets West fusion. Behold these cheeseburger spring rolls. They were being grabbed like hotcakes so I didn't get a great shot of them (sorry), but these contained wagyu mince with american cheese and were presented with all your burger classics like lettuce, mustard, ketchup and onions, but also a touch of the orient with the sesame seeds. Not something I ever thought I'd be eating in my lifetime(!) but I applaud the team for thinking outside the box. AMAZING.

ICEBAR TIME

In no time at all, our time slot was called and we were led up the stairs, illuminated by my all-time favourites, Tom Dixon pendants


Before we were granted entry, we had to don rather fetching hooded capes and gloves. At the time of my visit, ICEBAR was home to the exhibition "Valhalla Calling", containing ice sculptures inspired by Norse mythology (if you've watched the Thor films, you're half way there!). What is Valhalla you ask? Valhalla is basically a grand, palatial hall located in Asgard, which is ruled over by the Norse god Odin.


Admittedly ICEBAR wasn't as cold as I thought it was going to be (the Magical Ice Kingdom at Winter Wonderland is much colder), but after the heat of the day, having some time to cool down was well received.


The cocktail of the night was THE GOD OF THUNDER, a blend of Absolut Blue vodka, apple purée, apple juice and lemon juice. These were amazingly served in ICE glasses which reportedly some people try to nab from the bar, however being ice, they never last long! I sadly didn't get to finish my drink as I was so in awe of the sculptures and my surroundings that someone took my drink away when I was only part-way through. Sad times.


We finished up our visit in FIREBAR (also upstairs) which was my favourite of the three bars. As the name would suggest, the bar did appear to be on fire (the back portion, not the bar top nearest to guests). Whether this was real or not, I couldn't say, but the flames were every bit as hypnotic.


The FIREBAR lounge area had a very nice feel about it. Again, dimmed lights, Birds of Paradise flowers in vases, and additional flowers presented in lookalike blocks of ice on the tables.


I still to this day have no idea what we were drinking, but whatever cocktails they were, they were incredibly moreish. So staying for a few was easily done ;)


If you are looking for a night out with a difference - or to escape from the heat this summer - you know where to go!

 I was a guest of Yuu Kitchen and ICEBAR for the launch night of Yuu Kitchen's new residency, but as ever, all words and opinions are my own

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