Fusion tapas take two
I was woefully unimpressed with Tapasia when it first opened. I was willing to give the place a second chance though when I learnt that the menu had been totally revamped – as far as I can tell not a single dish from the old menu (apart from simple staples like edamame) had been brought over to the new menu.
Certain things remain the same though. The odd Japanese-tapas fusion theme to the food is still there (it’s in the name!) and the service is still friendly if a little more sycophantic this time around. ‘You have excellent taste sir. You’ve just chosen all of my favourite dishes’. Son, pass the sickbag.
I started off with the nasu miso, a dish of grilled aubergine basted in miso and served on a bed of hummus yoghurt. The aubergine was very soft with an almost jelly-like texture, while the miso glaze was very sweet – almost overpoweringly so. There was also a hint of sesame seeds which complimented the nuttiness of the hummus very well although the latter was quite watered down. Hummus is good enough as it is though – there’s little need to fuck around with it. Sadly, this turned out to be the best dish of evening – it all went down hill from here.
Okonomiyaki is one of my favourite Japanese dishes, but there are precious few places in London that serve it apart from okonomiyaki specialists Abeno and Abeno Too (the pathetic version available at Wagamama doesn’t count). Tapasia’s version of this Japanese pancake isn’t bad, but it’s not quite as fluffy as Abeno’s rendition and it falls apart a little too easily. The bitty filling of cabbage, squid, prawns and ginger is very hard to make out, so most of the flavour comes from the bonito tuna flakes and the salad cream. The bottom line is that if you want okonomiyaki, you should have it at Abeno rather than Tapasia.
Slow-roasted meat is more of a Western thing, but the pork belly here has allegedly been marinated with Shichimi and served with an apple salad. The shichimi gives the pork a sweet fruity flavour with hits of chilli and ginger which is just as well as the meat itself is rather devoid of character and the fat is still pretty solid – it should really have melted and oozed into the meat, at least a little. The sweet, sharp apple salad is an obvious accompaniment to a pork dish, but its sweetness was a little too overpowering at times. Overall, a disappointment.
Steamed razor clams on a bed of glass noodles for just £6.50 was just too good to be true. Although the food is served in clam shells, the actual clams themselves have been heavily chopped so their distinctive shape and firm texture has been lost. There’s very little actual clam meat anyway, as most of the plate is taken up by the glass noodles dressed in chilli, ginger and spring onion. Poor.
Lychee and hazelnut in a crumble is a potentially interesting dessert combination, but here the hazelnut crumble is bland and there’s precious little lychee. The dessert is instead dominated by a sharp yuzu/grapefruit-esque curd and a bland transparent jelly. In a half-hearted effort to liven things up, some limp vanilla ice cream has also been chucked onto the plate.
In The Verdict of my first review of Tapasia I stated that the food was misconceived and badly executed and that I wouldn’t be returning soon. That judgment still stands and I curse myself for believing that the kitchen could’ve turned things around with the new menu. That’s an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back – I should’ve stayed at home and done the ironing instead.
Address: 32 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TP
Phone: 0207 287 0213
Opening Hours: call to confirm.
Reservations: probably a good idea
Total cost for one person including soft drinks: £40