bar review: beer & buns, london

London’s explosive craft beer scene can often seem a little bewildering. So it’s always a treat to find a bar with a drinks list that educates, as well as inebriates.

Tucked slightly off the East London watering hole beaten track, this upstairs pop-up bar offers a laid back vibe, bench style seating that is perfect for groups, and some old school entertainment for gaming fans.

The extensive menu of Japanese craft beer at Beer & Buns makes for a fascinating read – so much so that deciding what to try first could end up taking you longer than usual. The majority of the drinks – some bottled, some canned – hovered around the £5.50 mark. Fairly reasonable given the postcode and the miles that they’d travelled to be there.

For me, the highlight of the evening was the Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale, a beautiful pale which tasted of orange and oats. Rich, rounded and just the right amount of hoppy. I also tried the Echigo Koshihikari, a premium dry lager made from a short grain that is harvested from the backyard of Japan’s first ever microbrewery. Super light and refreshing, it was incredibly easy drinking for 5.0%. Whilst very pleasant, it was probably the least exciting I tried, and the most expensive.

pinball              menu              hitachino

Working my way through a few different bottles, I also tried the Owa, a beer brewed in Belgium using a traditional Japanese method. Clean and refreshing despite the dark colour, this reminded me a lot of stouts I’ve tried, a great choice for a darker beer that befits a sunny afternoon.

Then it was time for some food. As bar snacks go, these were pretty satisfying – filling and also full of flavour. The signature chicken Karaage and slaw buns were beautifully presented, and the Korean hot chicken wings were divinely sticky. Luckily, they were served with adaquate napkins and wet wipes.

I finished the evening on the Niigata. The texture of unfiltered beers isn’t for everyone, but this was almost like drinking alcoholic juice, with a few fruity notes running through and a dominant flavour of pineapple.

I will definitely return. Probably in a large group. But I don’t promise to share the food.

buns               wings