Mr Ji, the collaboration between star London chefs, TĀ TĀ EATERY’s Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng and restaurateur Samuel Haim, has permanently closed its premises on Old Compton Street in Soho, in order to reduce the burden on staffing ahead of its imminent opening in Camden Town, Big Hospitality reports. The restaurant closed on Wednesday 21 September.
“It’s been a really tough year with staffing, our industry has felt the pain, so we decided to close Soho and relocate the team to our new restaurant in Camden,” a spokesperson told Eater London. “We are excited to bring Mr Ji to the Camden neighbourhood as it feels like the right move towards the direction we want to achieve with the concept.”
Mr Ji’s life in Soho was short-lived and not how any of those behind it may have imagined in 2019. Popular dishes such as the prawn “in” toast, soy poached chicken, and super-crisp fried chicken sandwiches all appeared on a makeshift Old Compton Street terrace, such were the limitations on service necessitated by COVID-19 in the summer of 2020. It later evolved in the drinking food bar first imagined by Haim and the chefs.
In October, in a neighbourhood restaurant setting, it will evolve yet further. “Expect experimental Asian food, sophisticated cocktails and a low intervention wine list,” the spokesperson said.
Meng and Gonçalves said in a statement that they were excited for MR JI’s new chapter in Camden. “Now it’s about embracing creativity, without restrictions or rules, we want to challenge tradition. Take elements we like from Asian food, mixing them up with western culture and creating new possibilities, twists on the familiar!”
Alongside the signature prawn “in” toast — a toasted brioche box filled with velvety prawns in a bechamel sauce with sweetcorn and showered with Parmesan, the menu will feature the O’JI, a fried chicken breast with chilli sprinkles, piccalilli mayo and golden kimchi, served with scissors to cut it; and double-cooked daikon cake with shiitake and garlic soy paste.
As it has with such success over recent years in projects across the city, the chefs’s Iberian and East Asian culinary heritages will come together with new dishes for the Camden menu: Slow cooked ox tongue, wasabi dressing and fried capers; plus red prawns, spiced bisque, seaweed, prawn crackers and fried rice, all covered with a “mountain” of prawns and hot and sour soup glaze.