LONDON | The City Lane was recently invited to try hidden Hawaiian restaurant POND in Dalston. Do you know the feeling when a flavour takes you back to a special place or time? We had that feeling at POND. The unique flavour combinations whisked us away to what felt like a cross between Brooklyn and Maui.
Southern Californian born owner and head chef Byron Knight, formerly of Duke’s and Off Broadway, is the man behind POND, and draws upon his extensive experience in the UK and USA, along with his Japanese and Polish heritage in creating something quite unique.
Walking into POND, we were immediately impressed by the space. It has an edgy warehouse feel (it was originally built in Victorian times) with exposed ductwork, an open plan kitchen, and plenty of space for tables – very fitting of its Dalston locale. The ample space is good for large groups especially as the menu is designed to be shared, however if you’re not part of a large group there are plenty of more intimate tables and super plush booths. We didn’t pay on this occasion, but have included prices for your benefit.
On the drinks front, The Manhattans Project is currently doing a three month residency at POND Dalston. The Manhattans Project is the brainchild of cocktail aficionado Felix Cohen, a well-known name in the East London bar scene. We witnessed Felix happily talking to guests sat at the counter tops as he worked his magic cocktail wand (read: shaker). Get down to POND quickly as you don’t want to miss one of the Manhattan Project’s cocktail flights.
First We Take Manhattan (£16.00)
Our flight of choice took us on a historical journey from 1800s Manhattan through to mid 2000s Red Hook, Prospect Park and Little Italy, using recipes of some of the most famous bars in New York today. We’d likened it to a potent time machine. It goes without saying that we enjoyed our ride that well and truly satisfied the stated aim of the Manhattans Project, which is to serve “classic cocktails, done right”.
Hibiscus Cooler (£8.00)
This “fancy southern belle version of a drink” was a refreshing mix of El Jimador tequila with house special hibiscus syrup, muddled with lime and ginger ale. It reminded us of places other than the cold of London outside that night.
Back to the food, and POND offers a unique concept of Hawaiian fusion cuisine. The menu is full of contrasts and features items ranging from the product beloved by Hawaiians, SPAM, to super fresh sushi.
Throughout the meal the service was spot-on-attentive without being overbearing. We had a great time sharing loads of different dishes. The dishes come as they are ready which adds a relaxed vibe to the meal.
Steamed Bun (£4.00)
Bao are all the rage in London and the offering at POND changes day-by-day. The filling of the day when we visited was fried shrimp with an Asian style slaw that worked quite well together. The house made bao was fluffy and springy, just the way it should be.
SPAM Maki Roll (£3.00)
The maki roll was amazingly fresh, especially so given the presence of SPAM. It was full of flavour and perfectly presented, with a real focus on the quality of the fish and rice.
SPAM Corn Dog (£3.00)
We love a corn dog and when we saw a SPAM corn dog on the menu we absolutely could not resist. Corn bread and SPAM – it sounds so wrong but Knight is definitely onto something here as it was delicious. Another? Yes please! We were so keen to try it in fact that we forgot to take a photo, so here’s a photo of an empty tin of SPAM instead.
Braised Short Rib
We timed our visit well giving us the opportunity to try the short rib that has just re-landed on the menu due to popular demand. The short rib took a little longer than every other dish to come out but it was well worth the wait. Beautifully slow cooked and fall off the bone tender, it’s obvious why the regulars wanted it to return.
Beef Poke (£11.00)
One of the most uniquely Hawaiian items on the menu was the selection of poke (po-KEE). Poke is a raw salad commonly served as a starter in Hawaiian cuisine. It is Hawaii’s version of carpaccio or tartare. We opted for the beef poke and could definitely taste the Japanese and other Asian influences in the dish. More specifically, it consisted of handcut beef tartare, shiitake mushrooms, egg, sesame and crisped rice paper.
It wasn’t just this dish that had Asian influences either – anyone who has been to Hawaii will attest to the various Asian influences that are present on the various islands and the menu at POND reflects how those influences have shaped Hawaiian cuisine.
The kimchi was a unique take on the traditional Korean styles we’ve had before. It had larger leafs and less kick, but worked well with the rest of the food on offer. Overall the meal was one of the most exciting and complex we’ve had in a while. It was the perfect meal to help combat the weather blues as we had into winter. The flavours and contrasts really do conjure the feeling of a Hawaiian holiday.
There are many reasons we will be going back to POND, and it’s not just to indulge in more cocktails. POND has just started doing a Hawaiian mash up on the traditional British Sunday Roast roasting up a whole pig Lu-au style on Sundays. It’s not easy to find the place, but it’s worth it.
3 Gillett Street
London N16 8JH
Telephone: 020 3772 6727
Mon – Sat: 6:00pm to 12:00am
Sun: 12:00pm to 8:00pm