My brain wasn’t really sure which sense to interpret first. Walking through the front doors of The Ivy Asia Mayfair you really get an explosion of sound, sight, smell, touch and, of course, taste, once you get to the table.
Recently opened on North Audley Street, the Mayfair branch is the latest edition of The Ivy’s Asian spin-off. In London there’s also restaurants at St Paul’s and Chelsea, while outside the capital there’s Brighton, Guildford, Manchester and the soon-to-open Cardiff (summer) and Leeds (autumn).
The design and atmosphere
The first thing to really stand out is the look of the whole place. No subtle colour scheme or bland designs here… if you want somewhere with pinks, greens, statues, mosaics, big artworks and cherry blossom trees then you’ve arrived at the right place.
Stealing the show, and providing the design highlight, is the eye-catching luminous green agate flooring, which flows from the entrance through to the bar and restaurant. It really is a work of art – and functional, too. Because it provides light from ground up as well as setting the tone for the evening’s atmosphere.
Everything here has been curated by interior design whizzes. From the table settings to the Samurai statue stood by the urinals in the gents (yes, really), much thought has gone into making The Ivy Asia a classy and genuine option for anyone seeking an Asian experience. Okay, you can’t be in London and also be in Tokyo, Seoul or Beijing at the same time, but here you’ll at least get a taste of those wonderful destinations. Also, to be clear, it’s not over the top at all. Combined with the funky music, theatrical cocktails and the tasty dishes, it’s a stunning nod to the sights, sounds and flavours of the Far East and Asia.
Having a restaurant with brilliant interior design and an inviting atmosphere doesn’t really matter if the food doesn’t have the same appeal. No worries here though. Emerging from the kitchen with steam, smoke and a variety of sizzles, the dishes from executive chef Simon Gregory and his team have the same visual impact as the rest of the restaurant. The same impact can also be said for the taste.
Starting with a couple of small dishes, we went for the bowl of popcorn shrimp with spicy creamy sauce (£9.85) and the pork and kimchi dumplings with chilli oil and spring onion (£9.25 for five). The shrimp batter was so light and perfect with the sauce, while the kimchi dumplings were a cracking take on a classic dish.
For the main courses we took it up a notch in terms of flavours. Not spicy in the sense of hot, but spicy in the sense of ingredients. The smoking barbecue lamb cutlets (£29.25) was overpowering in both taste and presentation (in a very, very good way, I might add). Served under a glass bell and introduced with a plume of smoke, the rich meat and sauce was complemented by the smashed sesame cucumber. Meanwhile, the robatayaki chicken with hot and sour plum sauce, avocado and fragrant salad (£18.75) was just a taste sensation with so many different flavours used within the dish.
Our dessert course – the “Red Dragon” (£20.85) – was recommended by our waiter. Served to share and presented in a cloud of smoke, there’s literally layers to explore here as it comes out in a dragon boat-like tray that has two levels and two different parts. Items of the dessert include soft serve ice cream, doughnuts, peanut honeycomb, lime coconut, loads of fruits (bananas and berries) and chocolate sauce. If you get to the end of your meal and two of you can finish this monster sharer, then hats off to you…
Going back to the design of The Ivy Asia Mayfair, the menus are really nicely put together. The illustrations and branding really work well for the cocktail menu. Should we judge a book by its cover though? Because the cocktails look and sound great on paper. Well, they were pretty sensational in liquid form, too. Deciding on the fiery tequila and saké cocktail “Ario-Maru” and the Negroni-style “Fujian Tea Garden”, these mixes were an ideal starting point for the meal.
The real highlight for drinks was the Chinese wine that we enjoyed with our main and dessert courses. A 2020 cabernet sauvignon blancs de noir from Chateau Changyu–Moser XV, this wine from Yinchuan in the north-west of China was perfect to cleanse the palate after the rich flavours of the dishes. A light and dry variety, it almost had an aniseed aftertaste to it.
Ahead of my visit to The Ivy Asia Mayfair, I was not sure if this spin-off brand would be too gimmicky. However, the food, drinks and design were just stunning, I just loved the theatre of the restaurant. It really was an explosion for the senses.
The Ivy Asia Mayfair, 8-10 North Audley Street, London W1K 6ZD; theivyasiamayfair.com
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