Restaurant review: Pond, Dalston, N16
- Credit: Archant
“Hawaiian food, eh?” said an American-based relative when I told him about my forthcoming trip to Pond. “Mainly spam, from what I remember.”
It sounded immediately to me like a casual stereotype, but on visiting Dalston’s newest eatery I found, to my surprise, luncheon meat very much in evidence.
Pond may not be London’s first restaurant serving food from the 50th state but it does promise to be the first new Hawaiian.
This means while there is spam, there certainly aren’t any grass skirts, although the staff have been known to don the odd floral shirt.
Hidden in a warehouse at the back of Gillett Square, once you get inside, the edgy Dalston ethos gives way to a slicker style (red leather booths and so on).
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Annoyingly our booking got lost in translation on a packed Friday night - but after a brief fluster they found us a space in the bar.
The idea behind ‘new’ Hawaiian is to blend traditional fare with influences from immigrants and neighbouring countries.
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We started with a sushi selection, fresh enough but suffered from too much lime and nothing particularly to write home about. The poke Ahi, on the other hand, was amazing: a cross between a tuna ceviche and tartare, well seasoned and very moreish.
Our pulled pork was pleasant but the poi, which apparently gets served with everything in Hawaii but tastes disturbingly of antiseptic, wasn’t for me.
When it came the mains, all thre were superb. The black cod was smothered in shrimps, tangy kailan, fiery sambal and a miso egg.
The beef rib was heavy with Japanese influence, rich and zingy, while the charcoal avocado was the surprising hit of the night.
This blow torched vegetable – packed to the gills with salmon, scallops and king prawns – was smooth, interesting and delicious.
Pond’s owner, Byron Knight, the man behind nearby Duke’s Brew and Que, has once again got it spot on with his new venture.