A melting pot of cosmopolitan ferocity, Soho on a Friday night throngs outside Tapasia loudly. We gladly escape to the slick confines of Tapasia’s trendy slate-clad innards and head up to the 1st-floor restaurant, peeking down on energetic Old Compton Street whilst perusing the specials. The feisty little sister of Japanese restaurant, Tsunami, Tapasia presents a fusion offering that manifests itself as a heady mix; on the uber-eclectic menu, you’ll find a mélange of kaleidoscopic flavours, colours and cultures, with the key concept based around sharing.
First up, the eagerly awaited sushi, and it’s every bit as good as the exceptional creations you’d find at Tsunami. There’s even a specialist sushi chef station in the slick, minimalist downstairs dining room. The dragon roll platter roars onto our table with an impressive flourish, displaying bundles of crisp shrimp tempura, wrapped in eel, cucumber and avocado.
To nibble on, we were brought diced tuna tartar on crunchy gyoza chips with mild avocado guacamole and sesame dressing; a creative fusion dish where both texture and flavour are perfectly matched.
The true winner of the night was shichimi marinated pork belly with citrusy apple salad. Arriving in a hot, sizzling pan, the soft pork was richly coated with chilli-bright shichimi sauce, powerfully offset by the sharp tang of apple. This is the kind of fusion dish that really works at Tapasia: a refined Japanese interpretation of an English culinary trademark.
Gorgeously cooked to juicy perfection, the majestic shell-bound scallops were excellent, and would have been elevated further with a lighter sauce. The creamy fondue-like creation with parmesan cheese and wasabi salsa stood out as being a questionably brave combination.
Impressively presented in its papery cocoon, the Chilean sea bass en papillote is topped with both shiitake and shimjii mushrooms and garlic butter. A punchy Japanese-style marinade would be a winning addition here.
Minced pork skewers spiked with fragrantly scented lemongrass skewers are another success, accompanied by light cucumber noodles and fresh seaweed salad.
It’s surely worth visiting Tapasia just for the dessert spring rolls. Drizzling with dark chocolate, the rolls are accompanied by heavenly-sweet butterscotch dipping sauce and contrasting vanilla ice cream.
The cocktail menu here is eclectic and the barman clearly knows his stuff. Cheekily named, the ‘pink pokemon’ was my favourite cocktail of the night, flecked with raspberry specks and scented with fresh rose water and lychee purée. Other favourites included the Tapasia espresso martini and the classy Sakura after-dinner cocktail, with cherry-dark liqueur and zingy lemon to cut through the heaviness of the dessert.
All in all, Tapasia is an adventurous little eatery and a very welcome addition to this thriving hub in Soho. They’ve thrown caution to the wind and swallowed the whole recipe book to an extent, as in one night, you could travel a diverse culinary journey that runs the gamut from Japan, France, Italy, England and Thailand to name but a few. It’s much more than contemporary Japanese tapas, so perhaps a bit of streamlining and refining of the menu would work wonders for this place and elevate an excellent new opening even further. Order wisely and you will be very glad you came.
32 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, W1D 4TP