- Visit Date: Wednesday 6th September 2023
- Restaurant: IKOYI
- Address: 180 Strand, Temple, London, WC2R 1EA
So utterly delighted to finally visit IKOYI in its new address on The Strand in London. My last visit I really wasn’t so enchanted, the rice blew my head off, even though I adore spice, and the service was lacking, and that was just after their second star at their old location. Fast forward to just over a year later and the transformation here is incredible. Blown away is an understatement.
Firstly, the space , albeit small, is perfect, it’s intimate, with the warm colours, it’s not pretentious, it’s relaxed yet evokes prestige and you feel like you are in a Michelin starred establishment. I love an open kitchen, and being able to watch Jeremy and his team put each dish together only adds to the vibe, which also feels edgy and cool.
Service is attentive and friendly. I am sat for the lunch tasting menu today, which is less courses than their dinner and I prefer doing visits at lunchtime, more time to digest, and always better lighting for photos and videos too.
Straight into the first dish which was a warm broth made with caramelised chicken wings and plums, lemon verbena and gola pepper oil. This was clean yet comforting.
A bite next came delivered by Jeremy, a little tartlet filled with a venison curry, smoked girolles, and a bernaise with spiced raw kale. This was absolutely delicious, the balance was just right, and you could really taste each element. Very tasty.
A saffron and mussel crème caramel with poached razor clams, candied beetroot and apricot, beetroot juice and saffron oil and N25 caviar. Wow, so many delicate flavours here, and they all work together beautifully.
So far so good, just stonkingly incredible flavours.
Moin Moin, a steam cake/bread from West Africa, topped with a lobster salad with caramelised sweetbread, pine nut milk and octopus with buffalo hot sauce. Who comes up with such a dish? Jeremy Chan, that’s who. Holy Moly. I have never tasted anything like this before, and it makes me want to go to West Africa immediately to eat more. Just re-watching the videos and writing this review, it’s making me want to go back to IKOYI for lunch today, it was just so deliciously good, what a talent, what a dish. I really enjoyed the actual moin moin too.
A whole Cornish Lobster with summer tomatoes and herbs, oil from baked lobster head and a pistachio, yes, pistachio, beurre blanc. Just WOW. This dish was utterly perfect- it’s made it to my top 10 dishes of 2023 for sure. Perfect cooking of the lobster, the sauce is so good I could swim in it and the freshness of the herbs and tomatoes, cut through any richness from the sauce.
The Turbot was amazing, cooked with love, and served with an egusi miso, which was tasty and worked well, also another new ingredient, violet pepper, which was very good. I was getting quite full by this point so only ate half and needed to pace myself as I was unsure how many dishes were still to come. I did also sit for quite a while until my plate was cleared, there was a noticeable change of pace as more tables were seated and the service slowed a little.
It’s a lovely dining room space, I really didn’t like the old one, but this is both elegant, earthy and beautiful, it reminds me of Noma/KOL vibes.
Pork, middle white, which had been confit and finished on the BBQ with buckwheat miso, side is a small aubergine with hazelnut and miso butter, and two sauces, a curried courgette and winter tomato. The pork melted in your mouth, the sauces all married together so well.
Jollaf rice, THE Jollaf rice, smoked, and finished with a lobster sauce. The rice is so much better than before, it packs a punch, don’t get me wrong, and it’ll clear out your sinuses, but it doesn’t burn your mouth to the point that you can’t appreciate all the flavours, which is what happened on my visit last year.
Despite my being crazy full by this point, I cleaned the entire bowl out, just to show how much I enjoyed it this time round. They have perfected the spice balance and I could appreciate all the flavours properly.
While eating I observed Jeremy in action, tasting everything on the pass. Just watching him it is clear to see, this chef is seriously talented, and heading towards three stars here, without doubt.
Next came what I can only describe as the BEST PALATE CLEANSER OF ALL TIME. Melon cooked in peppercorn tea, plum kernel oil, with a chilli sherbet, yes you read that right, with some perfect English berries topped with scotch bonnet and lavender honey. The temperature is what nailed it here. The right coldness brought out the perfect natural sweetness of the melon. It was like having an ice lolly. Cold, sweet but spicy ice lolly. Chili sherbet, genius. The berries equally lovely.
Dessert next and have had to sit up a little more to make enough room to squeeze it in. I am quite partial to N25 caviar with ice cream, and my favourite of all time is very much still Da Terra and Raf with his pistachio and baba but this now has claimed the second place spot.
Are you ready? The heaven that filled this bowl consisted of a melon compote, with a white chocolate crumb, black eyed pea ice cream, yup, with buckwheat miso and topped with N25 Schrenkii caviar to top. A few times in this meal I felt like I died and went to foodie heaven. Eating the lobster dish, the octopus with buffalo sauce and again now. Just wow, my entire palate was thanking me and I slowly savoured every single bite. Washed down with the ever exceptional and only coffee one expects at a Michelin starred establishment of good standing, Difference Coffee of course.
A benne Seed and manjari chocolate cookie, with gooseberry jam and honey truffle. I would like to have gone away with a whole bag of these. Chewy goodness, that type of chewy glorious goodness that sticks in your teeth in a good way.
There are only two toilets and I had to wait, only for a staff member to come out, but with the space they have it’s limited, but should be reserved for guests when in service.
Final thoughts, quite frankly I would if I could, put four dishes here into my top ten of the year, the Moin Moin, Sweetbread, Octopus, THAT Lobster, and then the incredible palate cleanser and then the dessert. I adored it here. I haven’t felt this way about a restaurant for a while, being Frantzén and my wanting to turn around and go straight back to do it all again.
Go book and eat here, immediately.
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