When the opportunity arose to head up to the heights of Victoria Gate for a Bao & Bubbles bottomless brunch at Issho with two of the best girls I know Ally & Becca, who was I to say anything but hell yes!
Issho is the newest addition to Victoria Gate, the name of which is taken from the Japanese word for ‘together’, Issho is a new, contemporary Japanese rooftop restaurant & bar with mouth watering dishes created by Executive Chef Ben Orpwood, previously at Zuma & Sexy Fish in London.
Let me begin by saying this is not your average brunch spot, there is no avocado on toast, no pancakes and no granola.
Second up, I have never felt interior swooning like it before, the blush pink, the slate grey, wall to wall greenery and sun filled ceilings, luxury personified. It’s inspired me to add a little blush to my grey and wood decor at home.
We were lucky enough to have picked a day where the weather in Leeds was beyond gorgeous, sunny and warm, perfect for sitting out on the terrace is Issho, which we all agreed would become an awesome post work drink spot.
Is it just me that thinks brunch isn’t really brunch these days if it isn’t accompanied by bottomless pours of bubbles or cocktails? Just me? No, didn’t think so! You can add the bottomless prosecco for 2 hours, for £15pp, which really isn’t bad at all considering that at no point did my glass even get half way to empty before it was topped up.
Despite Issho not being a casual dining joint, the kinda place I would love to dress up for dinner at, the brunch vibe is definitely hangover laid back friendly which was good as my life is 95% spent in converse…
So onto the food, the glorious food! The full menu is available for brunch, however non of us could resist the prospect of unlimited prosecco for two hours.
The options for Bao fillings were, Confit Duck Leg, Beef Short Rib, Turbot Karaage, all of which were served with unlimited Bao buns, pickles & salad. If you are unsure what Bao are, they are steamed bread rolls, made mostly of rice flour and they are so light and delicate, not to mention remind me of pac-man a little.
We decided on the beef short rib and holy crap am I glad we did! I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of beef as a brunch ingredient, but I very very much do now. It arrived on a platter with pickles and a beetroot salad. Our waitress then shredded the beef at the table for us and within seconds of her finishing we all tucked in.
The glaze on the beef was a mix of sticky sweetness and tart sour, not dissimilar to Peking duck, but a lot less sweet and with a kick of spice which worked really beautifully with the pickled vegetables. The lightness of the bao buns meant that although you were eating a sandwich or sorts, we didn’t feel filled to the brim with carbs. So much so that we decided we needed to try more of the menu.
I LOVE corn on the cob, I love it slathered in butter and salt, on the bbq or in fact cold. Issho corn on the cob was next level, it was charred and topped with a smoked lime butter, three words I would never ever have put together. I did worry for mine and Ally’s safety when Becca realised just how awesome it was, I think she would have fought us to the death to get the last bit!
We also took our waitresses advice and went for the chicken wings with lime and salt, the wings were sticky and moist, spicy and so moorish, I would happily have had another 10 of them.
Finally for the savoury round was Teryaki Salmon, unlike all the times I have had a similar dish where it has been sticky and super sweet, and the salmon drenched in sauce. This was a much lighter alternative, the salmon was cooked perfectly and the light almost soy sauce worked really well as a dip, then the same pickles that we had on the side of the short rib of beef which added a sharp, sour element to the dish.
As well as the unlimited prosecco, we decided to try the mocktails too, as we thought not every one who loves brunch feels the need to be tipsy by lunch. They were all lush, fruity, fresh and most certainly didn’t feel like you would be missing out on all the prosecco fun.
Despite being pretty full, we decided we had to try the desserts, and although the main savoury brunch was delicious, I would literally walk over hot coals for the puddings we had, especially the rice pudding which I am going to rave about right now!
The way this dessert is described does not do it justice, it simply says “Caramelised Banana”, which is most certainly is, but lord it’s so much more. Its creamy with a bite of the rice still, the banana is almost burnt in the best way, and the chopped walnuts were a stroke of genius. I haven’t had rice pudding since school, and honestly would usually not go for it, but some higher power pulled me in and god i’m so glad it did. Seriously, if you visit for no reason other than to have this pudding, you will leave beyond satisfied.
But one dessert wouldn’t be enough so we addedYuzu Curd, & Chocolate Ganache, again we need to take a moment to share the love for Yuzu Curd, I’d never heard of it but took the waitresses advice and dipped the doughnut into the chocolate ganche and the curd and it was, in the words of Peter Kay, a taste sensation. Yuzu are a citrus fruit not dissimilar to lemon, so think of a lemon curd with a twist.
These doughnuts were like churros, but lighter and a little less overly sweet. The outside was lightly crisp and the inside wash fluffy and light, yum!
The final dessert was not just tasty, it had a lovely story to it, Peach Nilar, is named after the head chef’s wife, every year he makes a dessert for her and this is her favourite *swoons*
Made up of peach sorbet, peach, white chocolate mousse and a cookie, seriously strong dessert work.
So final thoughts on this very un-brunch like brunch? It’s not a cheap option at all; but it certainly lived up to all the hype, not just the food but the whole experience, from the decor to the staff. There is something for everyone, if you are a raw fish fan you can fill your boots, if you’re a veggie there’s heaps for you too, and the carnivores like me are catered for too.
It’s a world away from the bustle of the city and I can only imagine how beautiful it is at night, certainly gone to the top of my list for date night ideas!
If you are more of a classic brunch fan there are also heaps of options in Leeds, so I really do think that Issho is adding to the brunch game in the city.
Cheers to you Issho, welcome to Leeds!
*Brunch was complimentary, but as always my views are entirely my own.