Despite its downmarket name, this rather tacky heart-of-Soho bar/restaurant offers quite ambitious Asian small plates at equally ambitious prices; we found it difficult to disagree with the seeming market view that the formula doesn’t really ‘gel’.
ouldn’t we go somewhere better? Thus, rather rudely, replied a foodie friend to an invitation to lunch at this new pan-Asian, in the heart of Soho. “But it’s an offshoot of the excellent Tsunami”, we replied. Convinced by the parentage (a long-established, ever-fashionable Clapham Japanese), friend duly agreed.
“It was the name”, friend said afterwards. And, indeed, the name 'Tapasia', while totally self-explanatory, is a bit, well, tacky. As is the interior of these cramped premises. (It’s well worth seeking out the first-floor dining room, which is surprisingly nice, relatively speaking.)
If we had asked to lunch upstairs, though, the restaurant would have appeared entirely deserted throughout our visit, as we were the only lunchers that day. Happening to pass by the next day, it seemed this was no fluke – there was no one seemingly there then either.
The obvious question, then, is how does a restaurant in the heart of Soho manage to have seemingly no lunch custom (bar critics, who don’t count) on two consecutive days? And especially when, a month after opening, it was – still – advertising 50% off food (albeit with a rather crudely designed notice).
“Confusion”, said friend. (He's a jolly useful friend, as you can tell.) “The menu isn’t clear what it’s about”… which really just leads us back to the name. Perhaps the whole pan-Asian idea just seems a bit passé nowadays. And also, perhaps, the prices are quite high for an establishment with rather a hokey name and décor.
The menu reads interestingly enough (you can see it here), and some of the dishes were – judged in isolation – rather good (if with, collectively, a rather overwhelming tendency to creaminess).
But, though we had a convivial lunch, with friendly service, we left unconvinced that our friend’s original hunch had been that far wrong.