It’s not difficult to find an authentic Chinese experience in central London. TPT Cafe, Joy Luck, Four Seasons, Dumplings Legend: all come highly recommended. However, if you’d like something more theatrical, a fusion spot with great views, friendly staff, fun cocktails, an expensive “experience” as much as a meal, try Tattu.
This is very much the 2022 equivalent of Buddha Bar, Sexy Fish, Asia De Cuba, Roka, China Tang and The Ivy Asia. Think high-end pan Asian fusion cooked by the former chef of Boujis with cocktails from one of the team behind Dandelyan: stunning settings, lots of Wagyu, plenty to look at, great if you’re on a date, lots of Instagram fodder, chopsticks very much optional.
First opening to huge acclaim in Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham, Tattu has now launched in the Outernet building - the first in a planned series of developments in Denmark Street (including a 2000 capacity music venue to replace the much-missed Astoria). Entering through a multimedia tunnel like an Ed Ruscha landscape, we’re asked repeatedly if we have a reservation by nightclub style doorman - but once inside things improve rapidly.
Taking inspiration from a traditional Chinese courtyard house, each of the areas in the restaurant are loosely themed into zones all inspired by animals: dragon, tiger, koi carp and phoenix (aka the Phoenix bar - sadly not overseen by Peter Kay in a wheelchair). The soundtrack is what DJ Andrew Weatherall memorably termed “Oompty Boompty Music”.
Cocktails make a strong start. They go big on Crystal Head vodka - there are no less than nine skulls behind the bar. The problematically-named 'Maohattan' is served in a transparent tea pot and the Gracious Be (Roku gin, yuzu and lime) comes with a strange purple crisp on top. “You can eat the squid ink crisp with marmalade” the bartender Daniele Mango advises my companion. He points to my cherry blossom Negroni complete with bonsai-topped ice cube. “You can’t eat the tree”.
General manager Vychitch Heuang-Praseuth ushers us to our seats. Already on a Tuesday night it was nicely buzzing. Our table on the 6th floor looks out to London finding its feet post pandemic - you can see the crowds queuing to watch Peter Andre in Grease or spilling out of The Flying Horse pub. The food has some delicious elements. Chicken dumplings have perfect pencil shavings of truffle on top. Lobster toast is thickly cut and flavourful, although the mango salsa was a touch too sweet. The speared cubes of Sichuan red belly pork had a fiery kick (albeit not as intense as Barshu down the road) and two crunchy puffs of crackling on top. What the black cod croquettes lacked in subtlety they made up for in flavour (the same ingredient is better served in a delicious main). Sliced honey glazed monkfish on morning glory is delicate and delicious while “Wok Fried Angry Bird” was snacky and splendid. The ‘Moneybag’ sticky rice (wagyu fillet, king oyster and tiger prawns) looked a bit ‘sickbag’ but tasted great.
Deserts were designed with Instagram in mind. ‘Year Of The Tiger’ resembled Rod Stewart’s posing pouch, albeit filled with a freak shake’s worth of sugar comb and chocolate, while a Dragon’s Egg came complete with dry ice reveal. It may not match London’s most adventurous or authentic restaurants, but that’s not its intention. Vittles subscribers may want to look elsewhere and one suspects the critics are going to pick holes in some of the pricing - but for a fun and frivolous evening out with great views and staff, there’s much to enjoy here.