TĀ TĀ Eatery, London


Two chefs, pairing European ingredients and Asian attitude in a inventive way. TĀ TĀ eatery started out as a street food stall and found a permanent home at Curio Cabal café in Haggerston some time of last year. Chef Zijun Meng and Chef Ana Gonçalves, who met through Nuno Mendes restaurants, where a bowl of rice struck them together.

TĀ TĀ means “he and she”, the food sprinted out from their street food style of "ricewichs" and Korean chicken wings. Followed by a sold out pop up at Newman Arms which I heard so much praised for their brunch where the food style developed to what it is today centring on rice.

"Our" Spring Roll

This was an interesting take on a spring roll using inari, Japanese deep-fried tofu 'pockets' as the skin and stuffing it with curried alfalfa sprouts, shiitake mushrooms and crispy vermicelli. The tofu skin gives a sense of sweetness whilst marrying the curry and earthy tone, the play of texture from the vermicelli imitating the crisp for spring roll. Thoroughly needed more than one plate of it.

Octopus Temaki

Temaki without rice? Using crispy spring roll skin to echoed the cone-shaped piece of nori of a hand rolled temaki sushi. Singing in a harmony of dance with smoked octopus and sofrito plus aioli swirling in that tender moment. Unusual idea but executed in a few mouthfuls of delightfulness.

Ox Cheek Wrap

Classifying the wrap material as an unidentified flying object, so familiar but unfamiliar simultaneously. With little alien like of ox cheek and bone marrow flavoured by XO hidden inside holding sticks of apple floating on a sheet of crispy chicken skin. A clever war fighting internally of the sweet and savoury, with a defeat of chopsticks punching through.

Amaebi Tartare

The only Chinese influence I see from the menu is in this dish. Using a fermented cabbage which tasted similar to that of Chinese pickled mustard plant stem "zha cai", it robbed the sweetness away from the amaebi sweet shrimp in the flow of wasabi and shiso. Nice to have the tobiko giving that popping candy playful texture to a rather unconventional passable dish.

Hand Dived Scallop

One big scallop, raw, chopped into many pieces, in a creamy yuzu dressing surrounded by cucumber and lemon balm, which I don't know what it is. A subtlety dish lacking performance.

Cod Collar

Special dish of the day, cod collars. Initially it had the Cantonese yellow bean sauce(磨豉醬) taste to the dish, upon asking the fish was smothered in the deep earthy note of miso, sake lees and chilli that would have gone so well with a bowl of plain rice. Felt slightly conned by the price of the dish, £29 for fish collars, an underrated cheap cut that not many favour for and bare minimal cooking technique.

Mushroom Rice Bowl

And who would have of thought I would be eating natto mixed with the shiitake, king oyster and wood ear mushrooms in a saucy rice bowl of soy and egg yolk swirling a waltz in my mouth. Bravo to myself - because this natto lacked the stringy appearance, powerful smell, strong flavor, and slimy texture. Sometimes you can overcome a fear of something as long as it does not look like the original state

Galician Beef Rice Bowl

The secret at tātā is their amazing raw smoked sirloin of Galician blond beef dotted on top of Japanese rice, with calçot onions made into a paste to a taste similar like yuzu kosho and also an egg yolk. The meat is stripped to wafer thin, so when mixing with the hot rice it cooks at the same time, releasing the fat and flavour. The meat is from a Galician beef, a fat old cow aged over eight years old that gets to graze on the grass for a long time, giving that marbling of fat to mature and a distinctly deep flavour. The cows get old and fat just as we get old and fat. In other words, we are used to eating Channing Tatum but are starting to appreciate Gérard Depardieu.

Coffee Icecream

They don't have a digestif or spirit menu quite yet, nor a cocktail menu but they do have a rather small good selection of wine and sake. We opted for a lager and an IPA, both Portuguese craft beer that never been seen around. Whilst darkness descend on us, awaken by caffeine from the coffee ice cream. Airy light whipped mascarpone covering the ice cream, hidden within are the tapioca balls - like you'd get in bubble tea. My friend was shouting "tapioca tapioca" which had me thinking of a different type of tapoica. It felt like a needless addition texture of chewy and flavourless but chewy with already the crumbs on top for something better.

The outdoor seating is a living carpenter work in a garden whilst the inside is dark wooden furnishing with an unfinished touch portraying a very low key and chilled vibe. Food is interesting twist of mainly Japanese influence crossing over to Mediterranean techniques. Each small offering is a delight to the taste buds. Very clever, imaginative and innovative food combinations. Nothing to note on service, waiters need to be more attentive and food should not arrive so slow. If food is 'your thing' this is well worth a visit, albeit far from cheapest haunt in East London.

Curio Cabal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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