Review – Yum Yum Ninja
On my continuing quest for the perfect Gyoza dumpling, I found myself in the oasis of calm within the South Laines that is the bamboo garden of Yum Yum Ninja. The sun has finally decided to get his hat on, making this the perfect opportunity to sit outside and enjoy the friendly service from waiter Barry and co.
Hidden away as it is on Meeting House Lane, it can be easy to miss this restaurant and miss out on their selection of Pan Asian cuisine. The menu is expansive, with a range of Dim Sum, plus Japanese and Korean dishes on offer.
Flicking through the menu I was interested to find snippets of information that tell of the history and culture behind these dishes. They are also keen to stress the quality of the ingredients and many of them are sourced locally from specialist suppliers and are, wherever possible, sustainably sourced and organic. This is food that has a heart and a story.
Yum Yum Ninja has a reputation for cocktails and stocks 10 types of sake; being midday however I opted for a thick and fruity Virgin Bamboo Cocktail. The meal started with some snacks and appetisers. Refreshing Pickled Cucumber complemented salty Black Squid and Prawn Tapioca Crackers and my inner northerner jumped for joy at the sight of the Crispy Chicken Skins. These spicy chicken scratchings were super satisfying.
For those who enjoy raw fish, the Tuna Sashimi was so soft and fresh it was practically sensual and was delivered alongside hot wasabi and an edgy Tamari dipping sauce.
Aromatic Tiger Prawns are a real treat here. These were warm, beautiful and fragrant; their softness juxtaposed with crunchy vegetable slithers. Chef Jake Northcote-Green and team balance textures and tastes well across many dishes and it is all is so beautifully presented.
Moving on to the main dishes, the Deep Fried Baby Octopus was a first for me. It arrived on a bed of deep green broccoli and sprinkled with bonito flakes that fluttered prettily in the steam of tentacles which were both crispy and chewy, but not tough.
Yum Yum Ninja is a great place for seafood lovers. Or if you are looking to start your journey as a seafood lover it’s a safe bet that you are going to enjoy well cooked dishes bought to you by an experienced chef who has honed his craft previously at Due South and Riddle and Finns.
If that’s not your bag there is plenty of choice of other meats on the menu and some Tofu dishes. For quick and easy Korean street food, check out the pork or tofu Legendary Ninja Buns that can be picked up from the stand on Meeting House Lane on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the Summer. Or the Bamboo Bar will serve cocktails for those preferring a liquid lunch.
There were two dishes that are particular favourites of mine that were an inevitable must-have on my visit. Firstly, the Char Siu Boa. Soft, sweet and bready with a mustard infused dip, these peaked pleasure castles are a real comfort food. Another to add to your Dim Sum essentials list are the moreish Gyoza (available as chicken or vegetarian here).
I find myself feeling a little sad as the meal comes to a close but soon cheer up with a fabulous Chilled Dark Chocolate and Mandarin Fondant with Rice Pudding Ice Cream. Not only is this absolutely delicious, it also has a fantastic array of textures. From the soft rich fondant, via a tangy mash of mandarin hidden at the centre, to the super dark chocolate splodge with added crunch that perches atop the dish.
Yum Yum Ninja is the kind of place you go to lunch with a gang of beloved girlfriends, or to celebrate, or maybe to take that date that you really like. This place has personality and is a lot of fun. There’s a handy cocktail bar upstairs and regular DJs at the weekend.
The restaurant is a flexible space with sections that can be walled off for private dining. You will need a group of 8+ to book a table, otherwise enjoy table sharing or sit at the bar of the open kitchen and watch the show.
Eating here can be more expensive than other choices in Brighton but it represents good value through quality food. The set lunch throughout the week means you can get an array of dishes for under £10 before 5pm.
Yum Yum Ninja is a real experience to enjoy and I’m looking forward to visiting again and trying out their new seasonal menu.
Words and photographs by Laura Evans.
Laura Evans’ food and drinks were complementary courtesy of Yum Yum Ninja.