My brain wasn’t quite sure which meaning to interpret first. Stepping through the front doors of The Ivy Asia Mayfair, you truly get an explosion of sound, sight, smell, touch and, of course, taste, once you arrive at your table.
Recently opened on North Audley Street, the Mayfair branch is the latest edition of The Ivy’s Asian spin-off. In London there are also restaurants in St Paul’s and Chelsea, while outside the capital there are Brighton, Guildford, Manchester and Cardiff (summer) and Leeds (autumn).
The design and the atmosphere
The first thing to really stand out is the look of the whole place. No subtle color palette or bland patterns here…if you want a place with pinks, greens, statues, mosaics, large artwork and cherry blossoms, you’ve come to the right place.
Stealing the show and highlighting the design is the eye-catching luminous green agate flooring, which flows from the entrance to the bar and restaurant. It really is a work of art – and functional too. Because it illuminates from top to bottom while setting the tone for the evening atmosphere.
Here, everything has been organized by interior design aces. From the table to the samurai statue standing by the men’s urinals (yes, really), a lot of thought has gone into the making ivy asia an elegant and authentic option for anyone looking for an Asian experience. Granted, you can’t be in London and be in Tokyo, Seoul or Beijing at the same time, but here you’ll at least get a taste of these wonderful destinations. Also, to be clear, this is not exaggerated at all. Combined with the funky music, theatrical cocktails and tasty food, it’s a stunning nod to the sights, sounds and flavors of the Far East and Asia.
Having a restaurant with a brilliant interior design and welcoming atmosphere doesn’t really matter if the food doesn’t have the same appeal. No worries here though. Emerging from the kitchen with steam, smoke and a variety of sizzles, the dishes of Executive Chef Simon Gregory and his team have the same visual impact as the rest of the restaurant. The same impact can also be said for taste.
Starting with a few small dishes, we went for the bowl of popcorn prawns with spicy creamy sauce (£9.85) and the pork and kimchi dumplings with chilli oil and spring onions (9. £25 for five). The shrimp batter was so light and perfect with the sauce, while the kimchi dumplings were a crunchy twist on a classic dish.
For the main courses, we have taken it up a notch in terms of flavours. Not spicy in the sense of hot, but spicy in the sense of ingredients. The steaming barbecued lamb cutlets (£29.25) were overwhelming in both taste and presentation (in a very, very good way, I might add). Served under a glass cloche and introduced with a plume of smoke, the rich meat and sauce was complemented by the crushed sesame cucumber. Meanwhile, the chicken robatayaki with hot and sour plum sauce, avocado and fragrant salad (£18.75) was just a taste sensation with so many different flavors used in the dish.
Our dessert dish – the ‘Red Dragon’ (£20.85) – was recommended by our waiter. Served to share and presented in a cloud of smoke, there are literally layers to explore here as it comes out in a dragon boat-shaped platter that has two tiers and two different sides. Dessert items include soft serve ice cream, donuts, peanut honeycomb, lime coconut, tons of fruit (bananas and berries), and chocolate sauce. If you make it to the end of your meal and can finish this monster sharing for two, then hats off to you…
Going back to the design of The Ivy Asia Mayfair, the menus are really well put together. The illustrations and branding work really well for the cocktail menu. Should we judge a book by its cover? Because cocktails look and sound great on paper. Well, they were also quite sensational in liquid form. Opting for the fiery tequila and sake cocktail “Ario-Maru” and the Negroni-style “Fujian Tea Garden”, these mixes were a perfect starting point for the meal.
The real highlight for drinks was the Chinese wine which we enjoyed with our main courses and desserts. 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon Blancs de Noir from Château Changyu–Moser XV, this wine from Yinchuan in northwest China was perfect for cleansing the palate after the rich flavors of the dishes. Light and dry variety, it almost had an aftertaste of anise.
Before my visit to The Ivy Asia Mayfair, I wasn’t sure if this spin-off brand would be too fancy. However, the food, drinks and design were just stunning, I loved the theater in the restaurant. It was truly a blast for the senses.
The Ivy Asia Mayfair, 8-10 North Audley Street, London W1K 6ZD; theivyasiamayfair.com