Restaurant Review - Yum Yum Ninja
PUBLISHED: 11:41 25 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:41 25 November 2013
© 2013 Paul Fletcher
Pan Asian restaurant Yum Yum Ninja is an innovative offering from the team behind Riddle and Finn.
Meze. Sharing platters. Tapas. There’s a reason why we are in love with variety. When it comes to food, we just want to sample as much as possible. That’s why I would usually be happier with several starters while skipping the main; who wants to settle for just one or two flavours when you can have a whole smorgasbord?
This culinary promiscuity is rewarded at Yum Yum Ninja, a Pan Asian eatery from the team behind the swoonsome Riddle and Finn. It’s in a courtyard set back from the madness of Brighton’s Lanes, with Japanese-style private dining shoji rooms around the courtyard’s perimeter. The night we visited, the outside area was packed with young, trendy media types having a private party and we chose an indoors table, as the evening had become chilly.
Our enthusiastic waiting staff settled us at our table with some of the house crackers, the like of which we’d never seen; black with squid ink and bubbly in texture, they put the pallid, polystyrene prawn crackers of stereotype to shame.
Perusal of the menu was a daunting endeavour – the problem with tapas-style dining is that it’s easy to get carried away. We decided to go for a selection of dim sum, at a very reasonable £10 for three. They came, steaming nicely, in traditional bamboo baskets. Rather precipitously, we plunged in before they’d cooled – cue lots of “ooh-aah-ah” dialogue and an initial tightrope walk between pleasure and pain. The smoked tofu was deeply flavoursome, earthy and rich, with none of the disappointing texture one sometimes encounters. It was also exquisitely presented, dotted with edible flowers.
The Asian mushroom and Chinese chive dumplings came with a substitute vegetable, but I can’t imagine they suffered for it; each little package was as moreish as the last. Prawn har kouw were meaty and substantial.
Knowing the Riddle and Finn team’s aptitude with fish, we chose from the marine side of the menu. My companion had seared tuna sashimi (£8.95), abundant in its buttery softness and served with squares of soy jelly bursting with umami richness, little waffled cubes of dried wasabi and cylindrical towers of crab meat.
My own indulgence was the Yum Yum blue lobster salad (£16), in which half a lobster jostled with juicy marinated tomatoes, peppery radish and edamame beans, popping with freshness. Again, its appearance was architecturally impeccable, with turrets of spicy crab meat wrapped with cucumber, and salmon pearls standing out like little jewels. The whole thing was presented on a bed of nori, pickled cucumber and coriander and was quite, quite delicious.
The restaurant has been open for about a year, and Chef Jake Northcote Green is already keen to ring the changes with the menu, pointing to a new focus on locally-sourced game. When I said that was rather unexpected for an Asian restaurant, he pointed out that none of the team were of Asian origin. Perhaps that gives them the outsider’s freedom to experiment;their innovation certainly seems to be working thus far.
Whilst I openly adore the cuisine of Vietnam, Thailand and Japan, I’ve never found Asian desserts particularly tempting. Not so here. After much deliberation and coaxing from our waitress, we requested a combination of ‘tasters’. Good choice, if I say so myself. A rhubarb turnover dusted in cinnamon, little toffee filo parcels with chocolate dipping sauce, pistachio ice cream, and rosewater meringues…it reads like a litany of sins but it was absolutely fabulous.
The restaurant has an impressive sake list but I was too cowardly to sample it on a school night. Instead, we stockpiled our alcohol allowance to splurge on an after-dinner cocktail in the atmospheric upstairs bar. One Corpse Reviver and one Fusion Daiquari later, we knew we had done the right thing.
Perfect for convivial, elbows-on-the-table group soirees and cosy couples alike, Yum Yum Ninja is putting the spice back into destination dining.
15-18 Meeting House Lane, Brighton
01273 326 330