Where to eat in London this week?
Venturing into the City on a Saturday definitely has its drawbacks. Eerily quiet streets, teams of seemingly lost tourists on the look out for St Pauls… As far as food options go, it seems like a culinary wasteland too – closed branches of office worker-friendly sandwich chains.
But then you find the ultra-modern new foodie hub, Bloomsbury Arcade, now home to Andrew Wongs new launch, Kyms.
Kyms is the second site from this highly acclaimed Chinese chef, opened since winning a Michelin star earlier this year for A.Wong in Victoria.
Beautifully designed, Kyms is a sumptuous two-floor restaurant complete with a pink cherry blossom tree overlooking the copper bar, velvet sofas, stylish wooden seating and Insta-friendly marble tables.
We ordered a giant pebble-like rice cracker and crispy seaweed while perusing the menu, which is divided into small plates, classics and sharing dishes.
We chose the silken tofu, Sichuanese spiced aubergine, tiger prawn skewers, pork skewers and French bean fritters to start.
The prawns arrived coated in a rice crispy-like, bubbled batter which crackled when dipped into the sweet chilli sauce, fun and satisfyingly crunchy with tender prawns beneath.
Tofu was the weakest link, pretty much just a vehicle for the rich umami sauce accompaniment. The aubergine was delicious but near impossible to eat with just chopsticks (no cutlery was supplied) sliver by sliver.
Frittering green beans is a revelation, a definite must order to start, and the pork skewers were a sticky, charred baton of mouth-watering joy.
Its worth mentioning the drinks at this point, the short but enticing cocktail list of classics with a twist included the ubiquitous lychee martini (no Asian restaurant seems to miss off this crowd pleaser), sichuan sours, plum bellinis and the Kyms spritz – sake, Riesling vermouth, lemongrass, Prosecco and pomegranate (£9). It being Saturday lunchtime, we wanted to have a glass of wine but not a whole bottle and spotted the Assyrtiko Lyarakis from Crete, served in a carafe (£26). The wine, which according to our charming and laid-back waiter was the number one selling wine on the list, was a sensation. In hindsight, we probably should have ordered a bottle!
Mains arrived in the form of the pork and shrimp Bao Bao in a sizzling skillet (£12), the Three Treasures meat trio (£20) and Gai Lan on the side (£8), a pleasant stack of Chinese broccoli heaped with goji berries and soy. The Bao Bao needed a swirl with a chopstick to break the eggs and was an incredibly satisfying dish, like a Chinese Shakshuka with dumplings…essentially ticking all the boxes for a weekend lunch, having had one too many Margaritas the night before. The much talked about Three Treasures was delicious but could have been more generous with the Crispy Pork Belly, Soy Chicken and Iberico Pork Char Sui slices, each arriving with their individual sauces, which quickly became one after a couple of dips. A side of steamed rice was needed to soak up all the juices from the Bao Bao. We had to bat off the keen waiter several times to ensure every last drop was devoured.
Pudding was vetoed but looked good – Hong Kong pineapple bun (£6) and Sichuan pepper and star anis-soaked poached blackberries with sorbet (£5).
On the coffees we learnt of the new Sunday Roast offer, £25 per person for a set feast that can be upped for an extra £15 per person for free flowing beer, wine or bellinis. There are many worse ways to spend a Sunday in the City!
Kyms is great for a mid-week date, family celebration or stylish Sunday roast with minimal plans afterwards if the free-flowing libations are chosen.