MNKY HSE restaurant review: Japan meets Latin America in central London
New head chef at Mayfair restaurant is turning up the heat
Lack of crucial vowels aside, MNKY HSE - pronounced “monkey house” - has a well-deserved reputation as a dining and music destination with oodles of Latin American flair.
The Mayfair restaurant, which opened in October 2016, has won even more fans since welcoming a new head chef, Mark Morrans, to its kitchen in April.
Morrans has previously worked at Kurobuta, Wabi and Nobu, and is renowned for his Japanese-South American fusion food.
The Week Portfolio wasn’t disappointed during a recent visit, which began in MNKY HSE’s exclusive lounge bar, MNKY LNGE, on the ground floor. The bar’s decor is modern and sleek but still has character.
I ordered the rose petal lychee cocktail, a refreshing blend of citron vodka, fresh lemon juice, rose syrup and lychee juice, topped with prosecco.
My pal went for the oasis colada, a surprisingly light take on the sometimes cloying cocktail that wouldn’t taste out of place on any Caribbean beach.
Moving downstairs, the restaurant features dark wooden tables, brass and copper fixtures and comfortable leather chairs. The dim lighting and mirrored walls create a dramatic atmosphere, and each place setting includes a tiny monkey toy in an amusing nod to the venue’s name.
In the interests of thoroughness, and definitely not because we are greedy, we opted for a broad sampling of Morrans’ new menu.
Our first course was the salt and vinegar pork chicharrones, which sat atop a pumpkin mole sauce. The chicharrones’ acidity perfectly cut through the creamy mole and had a satisfying crunch.
Then came a hamachi fish tostada with anchovy aioli and lemon miso. The tostada beautifully offset the delicate fish, underlining Morrans’ expertise with Japanese cuisine.
Our next dish was a lamb shoulder taco served with salsa verde aioli and pickled onion. The lamb itself was well cooked, but the aioli proved a bit overpowering and rather eclipsed the meat’s flavour.
We had better luck with the sea bass ceviche with purple sweet potato. The ají amarillo leche de tigre sauce, a Peruvian citrus-based marinade, was a tasty combination of vinegar and spice.
Next up was a soft-shell crab tempura. The sweetcorn aioli was light and tangy, but the breading was a dash too heavy for tempura, with the tasty crab in its casing.
The roasted stone bass with barley risotto got things back on track, proving both perfectly cooked and well seasoned. Delicious.
Finishing off our savoury tour was the Japanese Wagyu strip loin with salsa verde, mushrooms and a chimichurri sauce. The meat was tender, and the chimichurri the right side of bitter to cut through the fat.
Our final course was a dessert with corn served three ways. The purple corn sorbet was light and fruity while still retaining an unmistakable corn flavour, an impressive feat. Also scoring high was the melt-in-your-mouth blue corn crisp and the sweet but very light corn cake.
The new menu is unquestionably a successful pairing of the best of Latin American and Japanese cuisines, managing to both delight and challenge the taste buds.
If you’re in search of one place with every part of a fun night out - bar, restaurant and music venue - all in one place, be sure to swing by MNKY HSE.
MNKY HSE, 10 Dover St, London W1S 4LQ; 020 3870 4880, www.mnky-hse.com