FOOD REVIEW
Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

My month in food

Stephanie Brookes, BBC Radio London food expert, offers her pick of an eating establishment for this month, Kaia at The Ned in the City. I’m fortunate enough to be presented with all kinds of dining experiences over the course of a month: pop-ups, street food, fine dining, to name a few. However, being invited to an all-you-can-eat almost never comes up on my radar. I’m certainly not against it, in fact, I revel in the prospect of an endless buffet. For many, I realise the idea of an all-you-can-eat may bring forth images of an impatient rabble, pilling their small plates to groaning capacity; yet Kaia at The Ned has none of the trappings of grasping, mass catering, and instead revealed to me a far more civilised affair.

This new addition at The Ned offers up a varied mix of Asian-Pacific-inspired cuisine, with dishes ranging from poke bowls and sushi, to freshly-grilled meats straight off the robata. It’s a welcome inclusion to The Ned which has fast become a favoured destination of mine for meetings in the heart of the city. Housed in the grandeur of the old Midland Bank, it boasts an impressive array of restaurants making The Ned the ultimate stop-off in the centre of town.
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PHOTO COPYRIGHT: DAVID P MACDONALD
Kaia’s Sunday Brunch is a tempting proposition at £45 per person, all-you-can-eat, including a glass of sake, beer or one of its umami Bloody Marys on arrival. Never one to dawdle at a buffet, I believe I was the first to cross the threshold before my welcome drink had even arrived. As I started to make my way around the various stations, I noticed a few other diners had promptly followed suit – I’m usually the one to break the ice. I promptly made a beeline for the Japanese fried chicken, which had just arrived fresh out of the fryer: a crisp, golden batter, encasing a velvety, soft chicken breast which had been marinated in soy, ginger and garlic. It was a no-brainer for that second helping shortly after.

The roasted pork belly was a lip-smacking, sticky mess of meltingly soft meat with a pleasing tangy hit from the spicy miso dressing. I matched the pork with the equally delectable spicy aubergine that had been gently braised in chilli, rendering it into a soft, fleshly mound.

Further along the line, I spied prawn tempura (a long-standing favourite of mine) with which I promptly filled my plate to the brim. I’m sorry to say I was clearly happy to keep the stereotype at an all-you-can-eat alive and well. I also sampled some of the freshly-made sushi, including the delightfully creamy avocado maki rolls, as well as my go-to tuna nigiri. It’s fair to say my plate was very much the definition of an eclectic mix.

You could quite happily keep revisiting the savoury elements at Kaia for some time, however, the central display of miniature desserts is enough to tempt anyone to switch lanes. I found just enough room for the Yuzu choux buns which were generously filled with the lightest, zestiest crème patisserie, and perfectly paired with an accompanying espresso.

It is hard not to be tempted by the endless merry-go-round of eating, and it’s certainly a joyously indulgent way to spend a lazy weekend. Consider me an all-you-can-eat disciple as I’m more than happy to stay onboard for Kaia Sundays.
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essence info
Kaia
The Ned, 27 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ
Telephone: 020 3828 2000
Email: restaurants@thened.com
Websites: www.thened.com; www.stephaniebrookes.com