When I first saw 178 Stoke Newington Church Street being refurbished I couldn’t contain my excitement. What would it be? Would it be any good? How long till it opened? The answers to all these questions have now been revealed. Aun is a Japanese Tapas restaurant, it’s fab and it opened in just a few weeks.
The decor has a gentle touch and echoes Japanese simplicity. Wooden lights hang roughly from white trellis attached to the ceiling. The bar offers a flash of colour form it’s blue, green and yellow tiles. The tables and chairs are wooden, slightly mismatched and delicate enough to stop you feeling squeezed into a tiny space. You can see the effort put in here and although there obviously was a limited budget, the space looks wonderful and evokes a calming sense of home.
We nipped in on their first Saturday lunchtime. We were first in, but by the time we left the place was full. Throughout our entire meal people came to peer through the window and read the menu. It’s obvious this is going to be a hit with the local crowd.
Lunch was a simple offering of two options. Meat and Veg or just Veg. We opted for one of each without even reading what the dishes were. The tapas all arrived in quick succession and we ended up with a table full of colourful plates. The first dish to arrive was the Miso broth. Having eaten a lot of Miso recently at home I realised what a terrible job I’d be doing.
The Miso was quickly followed by Kabocha Pumpkin, Soya Beans Sauce and Fresh Coriander. Being the biggest Halloween fan, being able to have a pumpkin dish made me beam like a small child that’s been given ice cream for dinner. As a word of advice, make sure you have your chopstick skills down before attempting to pick up saucy pumpkin. It’s a slippery bastard.
The third dish was Aubergine in a smoky mustard miso sauce. Unfortunately this one was a little tricky to eat, as it wasn’t really sliced up. I made a right mess of it but didn’t really care as that sauce was to die for. I dipped everything I ate in it and regretted nothing.
Next up was Mushroom Tempura. How they managed to get the batter so light I’ll never know. Perfectly seasoned and for someone who has a love/ hate relationship with mushrooms, I found it very enjoyable. I would have liked something to dip it in, but I simply used the smoky mustard miso sauce and chomped away happily.
Finally, the dish we’d all been waiting for. Sushi. Not just any old sushi, but Sundried Tomato and Shiso Thin Roll with a salted olive oil dip. Best dish of the day. They have certainly sourced the best Sundried tomatoes around and once it’s wrapped up in rice and dipped in that delicious golden olive oil….I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Sadly, I didn’t manage to finish all my food. It was just too much for lunch and we decided that it would have been better for us to share one menu, rather than order both. Luckily I had a little tub in my bag, so I popped in all the bits I didn’t manage to finish to scoff later on.
The service was thoughtful and quick. I felt for them once the place filled up as it seemed far busier than they were expecting, but for a first Saturday I was very impressed. I’m looking forward to seeing the restaurant flourish and I will certainly be back as often as I can.