Ramael Scully’s name is often uttered in the same breath as Yotam Ottolenghi’s, having once headed up the kitchen at NOPI, but Scully is truly a talent in his own right. This eponymous restaurant is his first solo venture, a smart, charcoal-toned dining room with exposed pipes and an open kitchen, nestled on a hidden corner of St James's Market. It’s been open for five odd years and still, on a casual Tuesday evening, it’s bursting with diners looking to experience the chef's exciting, unorthodox food.
While Scully’s food draws on his heritage, a unique combination of Malaysian, Chinese, Indian and Irish influences, his cooking style refuses to be pigeon-holed. Rather, the chef combines explosive flavours with conscientious cooking techniques to create layered, yet balanced, dishes that challenge the diner.
We suggest booking a counter seat if you can; it’s fascinating watching Scully and his team in full force as they draw from pots filled with vibrant oils and funky-looking ferments. The first course is a corker: a fat chicken wing stuffed with soft thigh meat, truffle and water chestnuts, then deep-fried until golden, and served with the rich gloss of salted egg yolk and a caramel-like jus. A pillowy arepa comes next, which we’re instructed to cut in half like a pocket, then fill with jammy aubergines and tangy labneh. Rich flavours are often balanced with sourness or tang, like confit duck offset with a sweet and sour tangle of pomelo, cabbage and green chilli oil.
The non-alcoholic pairing is great fun if you’re not drinking. It features a sweet and aromatic series of short drinks, and culminates with Scully’s nostalgic take on barley water - a ridiculously delicious blend of coconut cream, caramel and chewy barley that can only be described as a hybrid between bubble tea and rice pudding.
The five-course tasting menu is £125 before drinks. It’s not cheap, but make no mistake, Scully refuses to let his guests leave hungry. This is cooking that both challenges and comforts in equal measure – a rare skill indeed.