#OGR: The Newman Arms, TA TA Riceatery

Update September 2016: Ta Ta are now at Curio Cabal on Kingsland Road, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. 

There is no rational reason to be on or around Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon. I know that, occasionally, clothes shopping does need to be done. But we have this thing called The Internet now. And if you really must try something on, there’s this thing called The Morning. Which has always been there. Why subject yourself to Hell, months or (hopefully) years before being damned to it?

I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. So, correction: the only rational reason to be near the spiritual realm of evil and suffering at that time is if you’re having lunch somewhere central.

It would be acceptable, for example, to hang around for a few minutes after clearing the mid morning tills, and then make your way to The Newman Arms, on Rathbone St – a blissfully quiet back street on the northern side of the Netherworld (Tottenham Court Road end).

During March, the pub’s upstairs dining room* is hosting a brunch/lunch pop-up run by TA TA Riceatery.

How to explain what these guys do? I suppose it’s fair to say they’re serving a set of Chinese/Japanese/Portuguese influenced small dishes, though I don’t imagine that description furthers your understanding.

The food is similar to the small, non-bun focused plates at Bao – in that they’re precise; inventive; packed with flavour; priced in the £3-£5 per dish mark; and for the most part quite probably (if you’re an ang moh too), like nothing you’ve eaten before.

TA TA small plates - poussin, aubergine, jack

On a preview lunch last weekend, we tried cured prawns slicked with egg yolk and punctuated by tobiko (mini roe) and prawn head oil; and strands of skate wing sat in a yeasted beurre blanc, black sesame oil and wild garlic. The yeast provided an alluring cheese-like quality to the sauce in this first class dish.

Aubergine braised with black bean sauce was maybe one of the best sticky aubergine dishes I’ve had, stopping well short of the kind of the sickly sweet taste you can get in bad versions of nasu dengaku. For all these little dishes (there were many more), you take a bowl of rice to base your meal on. Though have a bowl of congee too, because it’s superb.

Congee - who knew?

There were many other stellar things, but the photos on this page are courtesy of @ClerkenwellBoyEC1, and perhaps provide more information than my words can.** In any event, it’ll be good to discover things on your tod.

Ultimately, the menu is relatively long and difficult to choose from (in a good way), but if you go as a two and order the menu, it’ll be around £25 a head – and £25 well spent.

I suspect avocado on toast or a full English is as adventurous as many Londoners get when it comes to the first substantial meal of the weekend. However, if you fancy something a bit different, TA TA’s pop-up is unique experience. On display are skills, aspirations and tastebuds honed in exalted kitchens and slightly bonkers minds; making it one of those rare pop-ups worth checking out before they move on to something more permanent with a massive queue.

Prawn tartare, peanuts and ferments - Ta Ta


The Newman Arms, 23 Rathbone St, W1T 1NG, Saturdays in March, 11am onwards.

One Good Reason

TĀTĀ riceatery. Unique stuff. On small plates. £25 per head.