Last week, to kick start the celebrations of Chinese New Year, I headed to The Ivy’s Asia restaurant for a dining experience to celebrate the wonders of Asian cuisine.
When I first heard that The Ivy’s middle floor was dedicated to Asian food and was taken around on the press tour, I thought it was a fantastic idea. The brasserie on the ground floor is lovely, and I genuinely enjoy how extensive the menu is with traditional British favourites.
However, having a taste of another cuisine in the same restaurant is a brilliant route to take, and when you see just how stunning and elegant the Asia floor is, it all makes perfect sense.
It is a beautiful floor, draped in elegance, from the glowing emerald floor, to the gold, silk and jewel tone adorned fabrics and furniture. Everything about the floor is plus, expensive looking and luxury, really setting the scene for a premium taste of Asia.
We sat down in our lovely little booth right over looking the open kitchen, where we could see so many chefs all rushing around cooking the food. I love being able to watch chefs cook! There is something about the fast speed, stress and madness of it that intrigues me.
Our waiter explained the menu to us, which is broken down into various sections. It’s full of various choices, but is quite simple to understand. You have your table nibbles and starters, which are broken down into food options, such as tempura or bao buns.
You get your full list of mains, sides and desserts too, making it quite easy to select 5 courses in no time at all! Here’s a lil’ peek at the menu for your reference…
There were 3 of us dining, so we picked the Flamed Edamame with Spicy Dip to share as a nibble, before picking some starters from the menu. Between us, we went for the Crispy Squid with Asian Tartar Sauce, Nobashi Prawns with Dashi Stock, and the Crispy Duck Bao Buns.
I have to say that although my guests were overly enjoying the Nobashi Prawns, which were incredibly delicious, I would seriously recommend both the Crispy Duck Bao Buns and the Crispy Asian Squid above everything else. I’ve never experience squid with a batter so soft, and as I’m a huge bao bun fan, I literally couldn’t fault these.
The duck was juicy and tasty with a slight crisp to it, and the buns were literally melt-in-your mouth.
So, onto the main meals. Although I enjoy eating meat and fish, but when I see tofu on the menu at an Asian restaurant, I’ll always go for it for something different as I never cook Tofu at home. I chose the Avocado Crispy Tofu with a Lime and Chilli dressing, and a side of broccoli. My guests went for the Duck Massaman Curry with Cashew Nuts and the Thai Sea Bass, with a side portion of egg fried rice and pak choi.
I can’t really put it into words how delicious my Avocado Crispy Tofu was! The sauce the tofu was sat in was a rich tomato flavour with chilli and lime kicks, with a thick, rich creamy texture and bursting with flavour.
It’s a really good idea to get a mix up of sides between you, as it was lovely to combine my main with a serving of egg fried rice, steamed broccoli and then the pak choi.
Size wise, the portions weren’t particularly large, but with the starters and the sides, you definitely have a plate that is plenty enough to fill you up without wasting food and leaving leftovers.
I’ve said it before when I reviewed the Brasserie, that I’m always astonished with the prices. Everyone assumes because it’s The Ivy, prices are extortionate and it’s somewhere no everyone can afford. But on this particular Asian menu, mains started from £10, with the average being around £14-£16. Yes, there is a steak for £50. But that’s also what you would expect from neighbouring premium steak houses The Hawksmoor and Gaucho.
We had a bottle of Chablis between us along with a Chinese New Year Asian influenced cocktail to really get into the theme. I have to say that with this being my third visit to The Ivy, I really can’t fault the place. The Ivy Asia offers the full Asian dining experience, with a bit of glitz, glamour and sophistication thrown in.
On top of that, the food is delicious, well executed and presented. Every time I have been, it hasn’t disappointed. The Ivy Asia takes away the obvious thoughts of sushi rolls and katsu curries and replaces them with the most exquisite concoctions of Asian dishes, offering something to suit everyone’s tastes.
I can’t fault the service either. I have got to say that the team really do encourage you to eat and drink to your heart’s content, constantly checking if you need top ups of anything. I guess it would be very easy to end up with a huge bill!
I would recommend The Ivy Asia as a fantastic date location, for a treat or a celebration, or for when you really want to dine in Manchester and feel like a Queen.