Strangely inhospitable hospitality

by Lionel Casey

On my way to Woky Ko: Kaiju in Bristol, I contemplated why, sooner or later in recent times, we consented to eat in delivery containers. Stark, stacked, repurposed vessels, often left in previously unloved patches of Croydon, Milton Keynes, York, and Shoreditch manifestly. Rarely beautiful, in no way comfortable; this is surprisingly unhospitable hospitality. Visiting the bathroom regularly requires a stroll to some other place and the procurement of a mystery passcode.

Chefs, however, seem to like delivery containers because they’re a particularly low-cost alternative wherein to set up the store. Plus, they’re recycled. Chefs love speaking nobly approximately sustainability – like it. On and on, they chunter, saving the arena, one food scrap falafel at a time.

Woky Ko: Kaiju is ex-MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen’s 0.33 Bristol restaurant (he’s additionally were given a streetfood robata stall in St Nick’s). It felt impolite not to pop down en route to the Hay Festival, no longer only due to the fact the first, Woky Ko: Kauto and Woky Ko: Cargo, are tremendously seemed, however additionally because chef John Watson, founding father of the properly-loved but now regrettably defunct No Man’s Grace, has now joined the crowd.

The state-of-the-art Woky Ko is inside the most up-to-date segment of Wapping Wharf, which bills itself as a part of a “vibrant” harbourside network. Vibrant is a significant phrase to describe Bristol harbor at dusk on a Saturday night, especially around the Pitcher & Piano/Pryzm nightclub vicinity, which by 7 pm feels to everybody over the age of 35 more like an episode of The Magaluf Weekender overcome by a Walking Dead horde.

That stated, Wapping Wharf is discreetly tucked far from all that wanton, youthful high jinks. Woky Ko: Kaiju favors a type-of Japanese izakaya-fashion cooking, which is a term that defies neat clarification. Japanese after-paintings snacks? Tokyo tapas? Small plates, Saitama style?

This third Woky Ko offers, for instance, plump, delicious duck meatballs on skewers seared over Binchotan charcoal, doused with a sweet soy “tare” house glaze and served with a generous helping of rich plum sauce, and incredible plates of Korean fried cauliflower laced with lemongrass and served with assertive sriracha mayo. Both dishes are well worth a detour by myself. As does a deceptively easy bowl of tender, robata-grilled shiitake caps sitting in a puddle of roast garlic soy.

The short menu is low on carbs, which prods you to fill up as an alternative on asparagus in a peanut-buttery Gado Gado-fashion gloop, toasted edamame beans with rock salt, and broccoli in miso, and the entirety is sourced from neighborhood producers along with Grow Bristol and Wild Harbour.

Two ramen bowls were on offer that night: floor pork with mustard vegetables or the one’s shiitake once more, this time with pickled daikon. Neither took our fancy, so instead, we grazed thru the relaxation of the list, taking on bloodless chook pores and skin crackling-fashion, a kind of kosher beef scratching if you’ll. Actual hell on a plate for me, in my view; however, Charles ate it dutifully.

At £12 for fish in a curry sauce, Katsu monkfish lacked a good deal of pizzazz or panko breadcrumbs. Braised red meat short-rib, once more in tare and at £15 the most high-priced plate on the menu, changed into a lesson in softening, blackening, and stickifying.

Still, although the level of cooking could be very excessive, I can’t say this is a place where one desires to linger. Like all restaurants jammed into delivery bins, it is, in property agent-talk, “compact” and “cleverly appointed”: 40 covers, a loud operating kitchen, a sit-up bar, half a dozen body of workers and a queue out of the door, all in a tiny square area. There’s not anything remotely romantic approximately Woky Ko: Kaiju.

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