Bó Drake is a modern East Asian restaurant nestled in the heart of Soho which combines the sweet and pickled influences from East Asia with all the best slow cooked BBQ methods from the Americas and Europe. Just in time for the warmer days of spring, Bó Drake’s talented Italian Head Chef Matteo Frugone has launched a brand new menu introducing a host of tantalising European influences to the restaurant’s signature modern Asian dishes.
As we entered the restaurant the upbeat amiable manager greeted us almost immediately and showed us straight to our table. From everything we had heard about Bó Drake’s fusion cuisine and bright and modern menu, we were looking forward to sampling Chef Frugone’s dishes which we were soon to discover and delight in.
Our friendly waiter sporting a hipster beard typical of Soho’s trendsetting crowd suggested we choose 3 or 4 dishes per person with a view of sharing them all. This is a great way to dine – sociable and convivial – ideal for meeting up with friends, grabbing a bite with work mates after hours or even the perfect setting for tentative first dates who need to quickly break down the barriers with casual finger food and sharing plates to get a head start on connection chemistry.
It would be almost criminal to visit Bó Drake without trying the restaurant’s signature KFC – Korean Fried Chicken with Soy Garlic, Grapes & Rosemary – so it was little wonder that this was one of the first dishes we ordered as our first course. Succulent chicken wings coated in crispy batter and drenched in a sweet sticky sauce that like it’s American namesake is finger licking good. Those who like bone picking and Chinese Chicken Feet will relish the fact that wingtips are left on the chicken wings making for perfect nibbling material. The generous portion is easily enough to share between two… like all the dishes on the new menu which is built around plates to share… even small plates and starters like these delicious Korean chicken wings.
Joining the KFC in the first course was the Crispy Kimbap – Korea’s version of sushi which is served here with a wonderful contrast of flavours and textures, the traditional steamed rice mixed with salmon and pickled vegetables is not only wrapped in a layer of dried seaweed but is also coated in a crispy batter then garnished with Kewpee Mayo. We love this style of bitesize yumminess and there was a almost a chopstick fight over who got the fifth and final piece!
The final dish in our first course was the Pork Belly Bao – two helpings of Confit New Hampshire Pork Belly generously seasoned with moreish savoury flavours with slices of Pickled Cucumber cutting through the richness of the pork wrapped in a fluffy dumpling cloud and garnished with Soy Glazed Peanuts. Could this be Bó Drake’s answer to the American Hot Dog? If it is, it is a hundred times tastier and definitely worth ordering if you are a Pork Belly fan.
For our second course we began with one of Head Chef Frugone’s signature dishes that begs to be sampled – the 35 Day Aged Sirloin Tataki with Ponzu, Truffled Shitake & Tofu Cream. Slices of delicately seared lightly seasoned rare beef served scattered with chopped Shitake mushrooms and served with a mayonnaise style tofu cream and an irrestible Japanese inspired Ponzu sauce that keeps you coming back for more. Purists should savour the rich meaty flavour of the sirloin on its own to enjoy the high quality of the meat while those who enjoy soy sauce and ketchup manis flavours will delight in the sweet Ponzu scattered with seasame seeds.
The Sirloin Tataki was joined by Unagi Japchae – a bowl containing a decent portion of Smoked Eel on top of a bed of Sweet Potato Noodles dressed with Pesto & Garlic Cream. For those who have not tried sweet potato noodles before, we would highly recommend you give them a go because the taste and texture immediately makes you think “I can’t believe it’s not real noodles”! The chef was keeping his recipe for these yummy noodles close to his chest but this is definitely one of those restaurant quality dishes I would like to recreate in my own kitchen at home.
The last dish we sampled in our second course was the Roasted Monkfish with vegetable crisps & Kimchi Butter. This has what could best be described as a devisive texture. This has what could best be described as a divisive texture. Some will relish the gently cooked, ceviche-like texture. Others will wish the fish had been cooked a little longer. The combination of flavours and textures however have been very well balanced – the softness of the monkfish flash on one hand with the crunchy crisps on the other. The crisps were not seasoned to allow the natural flavours of the vegetables to complement the fish rather than take over. Although I can’t say I am the biggest fan of this dish becuase of the fish texture, the flavours were delicious and my dining companion loved every mouthful so if like her you enjoy ceviche, you will love this dish.
Speaking about the new spring menu at Bó Drake, Head Chef Frugone said, “I have tried to combine the kitchen’s Asian influence with my Italian and European experience to create some truly special dishes. At Bó Drake we use many different styles of cooking and the best seasonal ingredients to try and offer the customers something they haven’t tried before.”
The Bó Drake restaurant area itself is not expansive but somehow manages to squeeze in a large number of diners thanks in part to intimate tables sharing space with larger tables for foursomes and a decent sized bar area for more informal dining sitting at the bar. Bare brick walls, concrete, rustic wood and a unisex toilet downstairs add to the hip and trendy vibe that runs through the restaurant supplemented by the chilled soundtrack in the background that enhances the relaxed ambience.
If you’re looking for the perfect fusion of Korean flavours, Western culinary techniques and Soho’s most cheerful staff, Bó Drake has it all. Highly recommended.
6 Greek Street, Soho, London W1D 4DE
020 7439 9989