Six months after the start of the national lockdown, when we’d been starved of food, companionship and conviviality for half of the year, the one-night pop-up event at Crispins in Spitalfields, featuring Korean chef Suhyung Lee, was like an oasis in the desert. Yes, there was the prospect of some interesting Korean-inspired dishes – we’d enjoyed his residency at Carousel two years previously. But the nice surprise was the number of familiar faces there: a former head chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant, the proprietor of a recently opened Korean tea-house, the director of the Kimjang Project, an officer from the embassy reaching the end of his London posting… all had come to share in what turned out to be a celebratory, party atmosphere, from socially-distanced tables, of course. The staff at the restaurant seemed to be enjoying themselves, too: we were told that this was the first time in a while that the place had been buzzing. The pandemic hasn’t been kind to restaurants in Central London.
So, this was one evening at which people could briefly forget the grim state of the nation (the foundering Brexit trade talks, the level of the R number, temporarily below 1) and instead enjoy some innovative food with some great wine pairings. It was also an evening at which we could start to look forward to an autumn that might be inching away from the austerity of previous months: the pop-up sadly clashed with the KCC’s first teaser screening for the London Korean Film Festival. (Given the fact that I didn’t really enjoy the novel on which the movie was based, I had no hesitation in giving it a miss)
The menu is reproduced below. For me the highlight was the comfort food that was the deep-fried rabbit pieces, though the “blooming onion” – a great appetiser with some interesting contrasting flavours – ran it close. As for the whipped dalgona coffee that topped the creme caramel… well, I think it belongs on social media, not on the dinner plate. It was the one slight disappointment in an otherwise fabulous, fun-filled evening. Thanks to Nazmul Hassan, Suhyung Lee and the staff at Crispins for a welcome release from the lockdown.
Nazmul Hassan x Suhyung Lee Crispin Collaboration Dinner
Duck cigar, apple
2018 Fuchs and Hase Pet Nat Vol 1 // 125ml/Btl. £7.5/£45
Ai Casali Prosecco Frizzante // 125ml/Btl. £6.5/£33
Tuna, nori, garlic buttered rice, perilla leaf
2014 Clot De Les Soleres, Macabeu // 125ml/Btl. £8.5/£42
Korean fried rabbit, kumquat Koso, gochujang honey
2018 Aphros, Vinho Verde Branco, Phaunus // 125ml/Btl. £9.5/£55
Monkfish, pak choi, beurre blanc, pumpkin
2018 Hautes Terres, Les Autres, Chardonnay // 125ml/Btl. £8.5/£44
Black-bean, egg noodle, beef sirloin steak
2017 Rennersistas, Waiting for Tom, Pinot Noir // 125ml/Btl. £9/£45
Dalgona coffee, set cream
2010 Georgas Sweet Wine, Savatiano // 75ml/ £8
Suhyung Lee’s pop-up at Crispins was on 10 September 2020.