When Tattu opened in a flurry of faux cherry blossom and grown-up glamour, we willed it to live up to its social media content. There’s no doubt the restaurant looks the business – sleek, stylish, bar area that’s all gilt-edged cream marble leading down to a dark, dramatic restaurant beneath.
It is very ‘grammable’. But what of the food? We’d heard whispers that the modern Chinese fare was possibly more style than substance, so expectations weren’t sky high. The Summer ’19 menu explained by our lovely waiter Oli sounded superb.
There was an a la carte and dedicated lunch menu as well as five set menus ranging from £35 per person for the vegetarian version to £98 per person for what’s called the Emperor’s Choice. When we say set menu, wipe all thoughts of your average Chinese set menu out of your mind. This was nothing like any of those. Menu Two did it for us (£52 per person.)
Cocktails are big on the agenda. A Sweet Skulduggery, which is the non-alcoholic version of the restaurant’s popular smoking Skull Candy minus the vodka, tasted like a mocktail and not in a good way. Perfectly nice and we appreciated the theatre, but it was a bit too sweet.
The first wave (official Tattu term) of food came out from the kitchen looking intriguing. Lotus crisps coated in a sweet and sour mix of wondrous flavours were a bit of a revelation. Then came the charred Shishito peppers in a beautifully balanced ginger and soy dressing. Honestly, we’d have nibbled these beauties all day long.
Tender roast loin ribs falling off the bone were served in a sticky, flavour-packed sauce with yellow bean, kumquats and star anise. We fought over the last one which tells you all you need to know. Black cod wrapped in spinach leaves was delicate and fresh with sweet candied orange atop and orange ponzu for another bit of zing. Very nice.
Lotus leaf miso chicken appealed the least, however it turned out to be a winner. The chicken was unbelievably tender perhaps due to being wrapped in lotus leaf, served with a miso sauce and a fiery powder on the side to add some heat. Wagyu dumplings were dyed bright red from beetroot added to the pastry which we found a bit off-putting. They tasted great though.
Meaty chunks of monkfish in a light tempura batter with crispy shallots and lime was another triumph. Our least favourite fish before we tried this dish, we were converts. The lime on the side looked a bit sad mind you, like it might have been cut the day before. A minor blip.
While we’re not sure anyone ever described rice as the star of the show, the duck egg and sausage fried rice was pretty close. We swallowed our pride and asked for a fork such was our need to devour the entire bowl greedily.
Desserts were the least inventive part of the menu. Wontons filled with molten rich chocolate, with Szechuan strawberry and banana caramel dips were lovely and a white chocolate and citrus cheesecake with lime, matcha and strawberry divided opinion. I thought it was too heavy, the friend thought it was spot on.
In summary, we’ve found ourselves recommending it to anyone who’ll listen and have booked to go back next month. There’s no denying it’s pricey. We were treated, but we reckon we’d have been £120 all in. Bear in mind we had a mocktail each and no booze. Having said that, the food and service were right out of the top drawer and sometimes you get what you pay for.