No prizes for guessing what this restaurant serves! Beer & Buns is one of London’s several new(ish) izakaya’s – a breed of informal Japanese gastropub which have burst into popularity across the Capital over the last few years. Izakayas are places for casual after-work drinks, which also serve a selection of small dishes and snacks to be eaten by the table tapas-style.
Opened in early 2015, Beer & Buns was initially a pop-up started in the large upstairs storeroom of daytime Japanese restaurant K10. The creators of the new venture definitely brought the ‘informal’ aspect of izakayas over to London, with their beer-crate lined walls, Fussball table, retro pinball and a beer vending machine all giving the restaurant a university dormitory or hostel type feel. Tables are a mixture of canteen style benches and slightly more private barrels, great music is playing loudly in the background and food is ordered at the bar in typical British pub-grub fashion.
However, the food at this City-based establishment is far from casual and is certain to have you contemplating whether to use those remaining daily calories on more food or another drink from their wide selection of beers and cocktails (tip: screw calorie counting – just go for both!).
As implied in the name, Beer & Buns take pride in having the largest range of Japanese craft beer in the UK. The beer is specially imported from Japan, and the owner even told there were a few new exciting varieties making their way through customs as we spoke.
But if like me, you’re not a massive fan of beer, there are still an impressive number of drinks to choose from, including refreshing frozen Daiquiris and the very distinctive tasting barrel-aged yuzu negroni.
Supplying the other half of this establishments name, these soft pillow-like ‘Hirata’ buns filled with delicious flavours are the perfect compliment to an evening of drinking. Surprisingly, my favourites were the two vegetarian options, aubergine and halloumi Katsu. However, for the strict carnivores out there, you can also choose from chicken karaage, cashu pork belly, bulgogi beef, hoisin duck and soft shall crab.
Since transitioning from a pop-up to a permanent member of London’s restaurant scene last year, Beer & Buns have expanded their offering beyond just buns. Other options on their now Pan-Asian menu include several flavours of Korean chicken wings, bites such as chicken karaage, deep fried gyozas and salt & pepper chilli squid, and sides including fries, kimchi and salad.
One of my favourite dishes was the cheesy Korean fries. A great opportunity to once again drunkenly stuff my face with delicious cheesy chips and still maintain the facade of a fully-functioning adult. I was also a massive fan of the deep fried yasai gyoza and the smashed cucumber salad (there’s got to be something green on the table right?).
After impressively sampling almost every dish on the menu, we were packing up our doggie bags full off leftovers ready to roll ourselves back home when dessert appeared! For those who don’t completely fill themselves up on the savoury dishes, Beer & Buns have two dessert options; cinnamon coated fried bao and toffee chocolate brownie, both covered in miso and butterscotch sauce with vanilla ice-cream and peanut praline. Both desserts are large and rich in flavour, so if you’ve already eaten a lot I’d definitely recommending sharing.
Visit Beer & Buns:
Address: K10, 3 Appold St, London EC2A 2AF
Opening times: Monday-Friday, 5pm-Late (yes, it is shut weekends)