TaTa Eatery — the Portuguese-Chinese fusion restaurant by Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves — is reborn. The operators ended their long-term residency at the Curio Cabal cafe on Kingsland Road in August last year and have since pursued other projects across Europe. Now, they are back, with a three-month residency at Borough Wines in Kensal Rise, north west London.
The restaurant will be in situ at the new location until mid-August, open from Thursday to Saturday for dinner and for weekend brunch. It is a self-styled “East meets West” project offering “small plates and plenty of booze.” The menu will change either daily or weekly, depending on how busy it is, Meng told Eater in a call today. He said that it will always feature at least eight dishes, including one dessert.
He spoke of the limited means in the kitchen, and likened it to Clapton’s P Franco (the wine shop and restaurant-bar that was named Eater London’s restaurant of the year.) “We have two induction hobs, a fryer, and an oven. That’s it,” he said.
He gave extra details about new dishes on the menu, including “best-sellers” such as the ox cheek “quesadilla” — which is made with Vietnamese rice paper instead of a flour tortilla. And the katsu sandwich — ibérico pork neck, panko-crusted and served with a fermented pepper-based riff on kimchi, and is served with cabbage and raspberry jam.
He said that they were no longer serving rice dishes in the way they had previously done so because of struggles with the previous supplier, who was unable to source the same short-grain product from Japan. Instead they are serving a form of “paella” — a more “saucy” dish — which last week was served with day boat red mullet and which this week will almost certainly be with cuttlefish. Meng eschews the “too strong” taste of ink, however, and will instead blacken the rice with a purée made from burnt vegetables.
All drinks are provided by Borough, which has created a wine menu and cocktail pairing for the TaTa menu.
TaTa, which means “he and she,” first started as a street food stall on Druid Street market in Bermondsey, at which time it caught the attention of chef James Knappett who invited the duo to collaborate at his Fitzrovia restaurant, Kitchen Table in 2016. Pop-ups at The Newman Arms pub followed, before the residency at Curio Cabal on Kingsland Road, between Shoreditch and Dalston.
It is a fusion of Meng and Gonçalves’ Chinese and Portuguese heritage, and has always featured a menu focused on rice dishes, fresh, often raw, seafood and fermented ingredients. Both chefs previously worked under the pioneering Portuguese chef, Nuno Mendes at his restaurants Viajante (now-closed) and celebrity favourite Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone.
Meng said that TaTa has another project — on which he and Gonçalves are awaiting confirmation — which would begin at the end of August, hence their projected finishing in Kensal Rise in the middle of that month. He said they would hopefully be able to share further details soon. “Finger’s crossed” he said, suggesting that it would be a collaboration but a permanent one.