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Sunday, 14 September 2014

When fusion goes wrong...

Once again, I find myself with my burger buddy (a de facto label I'm sure she wouldn't much appreciate) as I follow this weeks craving for a succulent patty, today with a bit of a twist. Pitched up on New Row in Covent Garden, you will find Pacata, which offers an East meets West fusion menu, highly recommended by many a trusted London eatery guide and brought to us by the Boon Rawd Brewery (or as many of you will be more familiar, the beer giant Singha!). It is here where Thai meets Japanese and Indian, with an original and innovative conceptual menu that has been created by Yasuji Morizumi, the first Michelin starred ramen chef. Sounds awesome so far, right!

As with most places I get excited about eating at, I can't help myself but to dive into the online menu before making an appearance, and this time, having recently established that Korean food is infact wonderful (later blog to come about that!), I neglect the other weird and wonderful concoctions in favour of the Korean Burger, which would hopefully be juicy, well seasoned and pink, cooked with a special recipe and twisted with a signature Korean chilli sauce - all this served with sweet potato fries for a very acceptable price of £10.50. What more could one ask for?!

The interior is inviting too, shabby and extremely cosy, with window seats for the discerning people watcher and small booths for the cosy casual date, as well as larger high top tables for the groups. I quickly realise that I've walked past this place a million times before and I am pleased that this is my destination tonight, especially since the last couple of walk-by assessments were now coupled with fabulous reviews and and intriguing menu! Unfortunately though, I'm left wondering whether I've been reading the correct reviews, somewhat disappointed by the thought that maybe my oh so enthusiastic taste buds have tricked me somehow...maybe it was an off day, perhaps I was wrong, sometimes the equation doesn't compute. Baffled I am.

I can reconcile the lack of diners with an early Monday evening, though with a 4-year scoffing-in-London track record, I know better than to think that any day in the heart of the West End could be a quiet dining day (a restaurant without people in the West End is like heaven without wine I'm afraid, sorry). I can also forgive the slow-to-greet and slower-to-serve service in a busy dining hotspot, if infact, said hotspot was rammed (it was not), and I can certainly get over a small menu because you only need one dish to win over your gut / heart (they should be the same thing!). I'm sorry to say though, there's too much to forgive here to make it worth it. There was not nearly enough satay sauce on my Chicken Satay (though for only £4, I won't go overboard with my disappointment!), and my Korean Burger was pasty, a little insipid, and certainly not juicy or succulent; if it weren't for the beautiful presentation, the over-seasoned yet strangely tasteless creation was not too dissimilar to that bought at 2am from a kebab van, with a dollop of value chilli sauce on the side. The Beef Yakiniku (also £10.50) tasted nicer, but with the right combination of ginger, garlic and spring onion, I'm almost certain I could have made this dish at home and the Jasmine rice was bland, albeit well cooked and slightly sticky.

I want to be wrong about this one because it's foundations are sturdy and it's built on a winning formula, with great prices, backed by superstars and in a prime location, but it didn't work for me. The ambient d├ęcor didn't match the atmosphere, the food didn't live up to the menu, and the service while friendly, was awkward and uninformative. I care not to go on...

Pacata on Urbanspoon Square Meal
Pacata street view
Beef Yakiniku - £10.50
Premium stir-fry beef served with a choice of naan bread or Jasmine rice
Korean Burger - £10.50
Hand crafted beef patty, topped with our favourite Korean chilli sauce, choice of fries or sweet potato fries

Chicken Satay - £4
Pacata wine list

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