TĀ TĀ Eatery (CLOSED)
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Chinese-with-Portuguese dishes (and rice) from a top chef couple.
Please note, TĀ TĀ Eatery has now closed. Time Out Food editors, February 2018.
By day, it’s a café – Curio Cabal – doing the things that cafés do. But on Thursday to Saturday nights (from 6pm), a Chinese-husband-and-Portuguese-wife duo take over the kitchen (TĀ TĀ means ‘he-she’) and things get interesting.
On the menu of this permanent evening-only residency is an intriguing selection of small Chinese-with-a-Portuguese-twist dishes, intended for sharing out over bowls of rice. If you go in a group and don’t go too crazy, it’s great value. The rice itself is lovely – moist, slightly sticky, each grain beautifully maintaining its integrity. As for what goes ‘on top’, highlights included slices of dazzlingly fresh raw fish in a light soy and olive oil dressing, an unctuous bowl of aubergine braised in a fermented miso sauce or tender ruby-middled pieces of acorn-fed Iberian ‘presa’ (pork neck) on a tangy bed of black beans and fermented onions. Other savoury dishes were good, rather than great (the salt cod too wet, the house ‘spring roll’ too sweet, though both are interesting), so skip to dessert when you can. This is where TĀ TĀ truly shines.
There’s the ‘ricecream’:toasted rice ice cream studded with caramelised cornflakes, under smashed strawberries and chewy pearl barley, with a fruity olive oil rising up from below. It’s creamy, crunchy and chewy, salty and sweet. It’s divine. Or the silky, salty, sweet and bitter coffee ice cream, which came with a frothy, mascarpone foam, a dusting of brown butter crumbs (milk powder cooked in brown butter) and the occasional ‘chewy surprise’ – a fat tapioca pearl (like the kind you get in bubble tea). It’s hard to decide which is better. Best to get both (they’re £5 each).
And let’s not forget, it’s got a cute back story. Chefs Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves first met working under Nuno Mendes, moving with him from The Loft Project (a supper club based out of Nuno’s east London flat) to Michelin-starred Viajante and finally, celeb-hangout Chiltern Firehouse. After getting together (aah), they started a street food stall serving all things rice (rice bowls, congee, even rice-based sandwiches). In Curio + TĀ TĀ, they’ve realised a dream: going back east and having a place of their own.
Service is friendly, Latin beats add to the laidback vibe and there’s a covered outdoor space too (a large ‘cage’ of brick, wire and trellis – nicer than it sounds – with plants and heaters). East London, how lucky you are that these two lovebirds have come home to roost.
258 Kingsland Road
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