Ivy Asia, Chelsea

Last Updated on : 3rd January 2022

The King’s Road is these days indeed blessed, blessed that is with two different offerings from the Ivy. First is the now well-established Ivy Garden café on the site of the former Henry J. Beans, and now complemented by new arrival the Ivy Asia right next door.

The Ivy Asia concept, the groups first all Asia cuisine was first trialled in the city near St. Paul’s, this is so far the only other branch. Fittingly as it was in that blessed time between Christmas and New Year when myself and my companion of the day visited, the outside is painted the same sort of red as the crepe paper that used to be used as Christmas wrappings when I was growing up. Once inside the over-the-top oriental wall coverings and illuminated multi colour glass floor made it feel like you were stepping into the Emperor of Japan’s tropical fish tank as much as a west London dining room.

Thanks to the efficient staff we were promptly seated and had started perusing the menus within a minute or so of entering. The menu like the décor doesn’t appear to relate to any bit of Asia, more just those parts east of India. It is split into 3 main sections, sushi & sashimi, small plates, and large plates.

The concept here is to share, so whatever you order will be shared by your companions. On the advice of our waiter, we plumped for a couple of plates of sushi, 2 small plates and one large dish with a side order of chilli noodles. These we washed down with a choice of a Viognier from the lower foothills of the wine list.

The wine was crisp and pleasant, a good accompaniment for Asian food. Whilst waiting for our first plates to arrive I noticed how theatrical much of the presentation was. There were sizzling dishes, smoking dishes, dishes served on metal geese. The Ivy Asia was as much a feast for the eyes as it was for the tongue, or perhaps for a wider audience on Instagram.

My worries though that this presentation first ethos might affect the quality of the food were soon shown to be groundless. We had two different sushi plates, first salmon three was, which included a salmon tartare that had my taste buds exhaling in delight and Ivy Asia house rolls that combined crispness and creaminess in one bite.

The small plates that followed were for me if not the low points of the meal they were the least distinguished. We’d selected two prawn plates, dumplings, and tempura. The dumplings were OK, with the vinegary sauce bringing out the flavour of the prawns nicely. The tempura had nothing wrong with it but did taste rather like tempura prawns I’d had many other places.

The larger plate of beef sirloin with mushrooms and pickles was nicely presented, seemingly to both sizzle and smoke as it arrived. The mushroom and pickle helped bring out the beef flavour, whilst the chilli noodles had a powerful if not overpowering flavour. By this time the first bottle of wine had been succeeded by a second of the same label and my stomach was sending full capacity signals to my brain.

This meant that I have no idea what the puddings were like, I can say that the double espresso we both consumed was probably needed to propel us towards and beyond the door. The bill came to about £190 between us for 5 food plates, noodles and two bottles of wine, so I can honestly say it wasn’t the price that meant I needed a good lie down afterwards.

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