If you didn’t know it was there, you’d miss it. Right in the heart of …the city (wait, don’t groan) is this tiny, awesome little Japanese-themed drinking bar which seduced the hell out of us with everything they’re about.
The interior at Beer & Buns is dead simple – it’s a dark space which is dominated by black and red everything, plus a load of those industrial oil drums which have been put all over the place for people to sit up to like tables. The walls and tables are decorated with red and white Asahi beer boxes, except for huge stretches of blackboard-painted areas where guests are invited to scrawl drunken thoughts and amusing obscenities. I mean, it wasn’t overwhelmingly fussy with cool little details but it worked and kind of reminded me of a student bar, but not in a rubbish way. Even though that sounds rubbish.
The food here is well and truly legit. Their special skills involve those Japanese steamed dumplings which Tom has a fairly strong obsession with, so he was more than excited to try their offerings. It also meant that myself and Tim, our esteemed dumpling-sampling guest, were practically sat with a freakin’ dumpling expert. “I’ll tell you if they’re good or not…” he swore, to us and the Gods of steamed Asian foods.
I can assure you now, the dumplings here are really, truly, gloriously good.
We went for a selection of fillings and soon enough it was like being at a flippin’ all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet. We had pulled pork ones, spicy chicken ones and aubergine katsu ones – all of which included fresh chillis, made-from-scratch sauces and mouth-arousing flavours. We matched all this with some bad ass Japanese beers, some of which were gluten free, too. Just, if you’re interested. Turns out Japanese beer is amazing and soon we were having a merry old time, slurring our words whilst surrounded by remnants of steamed bits of bready dinner.
We got up to bid our hosts farewell, but the barman – who’d insisted we try all these Japanese beers, told us we couldn’t leave his party without joining him in a ‘Sake Bomb’. I wasn’t sure either. He took us over to an oil drum and set up four half-pints of, yup, more Japanese beer. He placed two chopsticks over the top like train tracks, then balanced a ‘Junmai’ sake shot on top of the little parallel shelves.
Right, he said. 3, 2, 1, then chant “sake” and bang the drum at the same time – the shot drops into the glass and you neck it. Suddenly Tim and Tom were nervous. This had to be coordinated. As luck would have it, they’re both equally as gifted at knocking booze back as each other and it was beautifully in sync like boozed rhythmic gymnastics. We all shared a hug, scrawled something really un-funny on the wall and went into the night.
Beer & Buns, thanks for the awesome little booze session. We’ll be back.