As enticing names for new restaurants go, Funky Asia doesn’t really cut the wasabi. An assortment of bulbous, garishly coloured lamps which hang in the window don’t help much either. To the passer-by, they scream of gay disco rather than contemporary cuisine. But, hey, they are pretty funky.
The Shoreditch Standard™ mix of eclectic chairs, worn tables and shabby chic appendages offers a surprisingly welcome change once inside. If you squint, you could even believe that those pesky lights weren’t there at all. A soundtrack that spans Michael Jackson, The Bee Gees and Justin Timberlake ensures that the funk is not lost.
The hefty menu does a good job of representing just about every funk-filled corner of Asia, taking in influences from Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, China and Japan. Dishes are presented in small, sharing portions allowing diners to assemble their own multicultural mezze.
As much as pan-Asian is a tad passé, the blending of cultural influences allows most of the dishes to work well together. Crispy fried squid with tongue-tingling Szechuan pepper; salivatingly fresh summer rolls filled with sliced vegetables and a tart homemade sweet chilli sauce; and slivers of rare duck breast served with a punchy aniseed marinade are some near-perfectly executed highlights. The sushi on offer is again flawlessly created – as would be expected from a restaurant manager with a background at Nobu – but seems a little random placed alongside the rest of the meal.
An yuzu ice cream with cut up pieces of mochi in it makes for a suitably border-crossing dessert, whilst wine, sake, green teas, cocktails and beers help the drinks list keep up with the food’s worldly travels.
Throw in some cleavage courtesy of ‘Little Bo Peep porn’ – our description, not theirs - on the walls, the most old-school telephone you’re likely to see and hear in this iAge, and a mysterious incense smell that appears to transcend the floorboards, and you have one seriously quirky venue that we love way more than we really ought to. It must be because we're just so funky...
Funky Asia is at 159 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BJ. Find out more at www.funkyasia.co.uk