Sky Kong Kong

Tucked away on an unassuming, rather grotty side street just metres from Bristol’s Bear Pit, Sky Kong Kong represents all that is good and great about Bristol’s ever-developing food scene. It serves up food for the pure passion rather than the pounds in the bank.

Here Korean food is fresh, experimental and changes on a daily basis. Head Chef and owner, Wizzy Chung, who formerly worked in Michelin restaurants, left the prestige and glory to make her own mark and serve the local people of Bristol.

Dishes here are seasonal, carefully crafted and very affordable. Sky Kong Kong has only one menu. Starter, main and dessert is the same for everyone so be ready to try something new and come with an open-mind, excited to try the flavours Wizzy makes extremely palatable. The menu can range fairly widely, however, the general practice is a starter, main (meat and fish) and dessert. Branding themselves as an ‘organic-Korean café’, SKK also serves up delicious lunchtime bento boxes for just £3.50. But a word of warning: it’s probably not the most vegetarian-friendly.

Upon my visit, I was served smoked salmon accompanied by an array of fruity garnishes, fresh red mullet and a Korean take on beef chow mein. This was finished up with a mouth watering chocolate parfait. The dishes were easy on the eye, a perfect balance of flavours and something new I’d never tried.

The restaurant décor is not particularly colourful but it is certainly inviting and  characterfully cluttered. The Korean lettered walls reflect the Asian influence and cultural pride that is clear in each dish and important to Wizzy. The long wooden table seats all, and the surrounding shelves and surfaces are home to various jars of fermented foods and  Asian recipe books. This is by no means a restaurant that tries to be anything it’s not. The tables are strewn with neatly mismatched crockery and the food served on them is dependent upon the spontaneity of the chef that day.

It cannot be denied that the quality of the food and the care and attention involved are the results of a lifetime dedicated to the love of food. There are two sittings for dinner, with the latest being 8.30pm. Prices start at £12.50 and corkage is £1.50 per person.

SKK isn’t the most conventional restaurant. It’s definitely worth the experience and the bill won’t break the bank.

2 Haymarket Walk
0117 239 9528

Meet Jen from Poco

In an age where the UK is throwing away £13 billion of food each year, restaurants being a huge contributor, Poco in Bristol is pioneering for change.

Having started out on the festival circuit, Poco is now situated in Bristol’s trendy Stokes Croft. It is an environmentally-focused restaurant run by a team of three: Tom Hunt (Executive Chef, food waste activist and author of ‘The Natural Cook‘), Ben Pryor (Executive Bar Manager and forager) and Jen Best (Team Manager and all things business). Together the team runs a tight ship – fresh and seasonal dishes are coupled with attentive service and a visible passion for food.

Having tried and tested the Poco menu and intimate restaurant setting, Imogen Flynn caught up with Jen to find out the secrets behind their success on the food scene.

  1) Why is Bristol the right place for Poco? 

Our roots began in the festival circuit and so we were born out of a liberal, creative space. Bristol is a beautiful city with boundless free expression and a strong consciousness for environmental issues and social well being. This is what Poco is about, so it was a no brainer to make this city our home.

2) What do you think is different about Poco in comparison to other tapas restaurants in Bristol?

Our styles and our atmosphere. Our food is not authentic Spanish tapas, but tapas inspired by a wider Latin and Moorish cuisine – with a British twist. Our menu is made up of only the freshest seasonal produce sourced from local farms.

The atmosphere at Poco is full of warmth and carries an exciting buzz. We care about what we are trying to achieve and we’re careful to hire people with a true warmth and sincerity. We’re building a natural family unit, which, we hope, passes a whole lot of love onto our customers.

3) Would you say that Poco has a particular ethos towards food and the food industry? 

Most definitely. We’re passionate about minimising our impact on the environment and supporting the local economy as much as possible. Our food and ingredients are chosen for their traceability. We buy directly from farms and producers wherever possible, because of the close relationships and trust that creates.

Because of this, our ingredients are always evolving to reflect what is at it’s best and of the moment. Our menu is very much veg-centric but the meat and fish that we do buy comes only from ethical sources. Our meat will always be free-range and the fish we choose to put on our menu is graded ‘safe to eat’ by the Marine Conservation Society.

It’s not just about the sourcing of food, but what happens to it as a waste product. We weigh every single bag of waste that leaves the restaurant so we know exactly how many kilos of food waste we produce (which we split between prep waste and plate waste) so we can understand best how to reduce it.

Our chefs use a nose-to-tail and root-to-fruit policy in the kitchen to ensure the whole animal or vegetable is used. Our front of house team also advise customers on the appropriate number of plates to order and they offer doggy bags when guests can’t finish their meal.

4) Is sustainability important to you and how would you say you incorporate this into your business?

We were awarded Sustainable Restaurant of the Year in 2016 and we are constantly striving to improve our standards. We are trying to move on from just behaving sustainably, to behaving in a way that is regenerative for both the environment and society. We’re doing this by supporting suppliers with regenerative practices and supporting the local community to create positive change. Behaving sustainably is at the core of what Poco is about.

We obviously want to provide our customers with the tastiest food and drink and give them a space to relax, but every single decision that goes into making that happen is carefully considered to ensure we are reducing our impact on the environment. We monitor our sourcing, energy consumption, staff well being, and community engagement on a regular basis to ensure we are doing our best.

5) How did you come up with the idea? 

Tom had been running the festival stalls, Poco Morocco and The Shisha Lounge, for many years when Ben and I came on board to help with one year. We made a great team and decided to set up in bricks and mortar on Stokes Croft in 2011. We evolved the offering from the posh wraps at festivals to a style of tapas that was inspired by the same flavours but with strictly British ingredients.

6 ) Who is your clientele? 

As we’re placed in the bohemian quarter of Stokes Croft, a lot of our customers are local artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. We have a beautifully romantic atmosphere in the evenings, so we do get a lot of people on dates. Now that we have been open nearly six years, we are now getting messages from people who had their first dates in Poco, telling us that they are getting married! Similarly, though, we have lots of big groups and a varied demographic. We try not to be exclusive with our offering or pricing, so our doors are open for absolutely everyone.

7) What is your most popular dish? 

Hmmm…perhaps the pork belly with lemon and fennel, or the Portuguese punched potatoes with harissa and aioli. These two have been on our menu since the beginning in varying forms and we daren’t take them off for the wrath we might experience from our regulars!

9) What would you say is the hardest thing about running a restaurant? Any tips?

Finding the chefs! We are quite lucky because we have a team that keeps together for quite some time, but there is a nation-wide chef shortage. This makes it very difficult to find replacements.

The restaurant industry doesn’t have the best reputation in terms of employee well-being, in particular due to the hours that chefs and front of house managers are expected to work. I think this might be putting a lot of people off training to be chefs.

This is why we cap hours at 48 per week for our managers. Any more than that and productivity and staff well being begin to diminish. We try to encourage a healthy life-work balance because simply in doing so you will have a happier and healthier work force!


A recipe tip from Poco….

Moreish Portuguese Potatoes

We par-boil them and quite literally punch or squeeze them so they break.

Once fried they are then tossed with lemon zest and coriander seeds and have the most delicious texture of crispy vs fluffy.

Dipped in our signature harissa or aioli sauce… so so good.

45 Jamaica St

0117 923 2233

Pinkmans Bakery

A fairly recent addition to the plethora of buzzing cafés and restaurants to grace Bristol’s Park Street, Pinkmans offers a huge variety of fresh food on a daily basis, as well as cocktails, beers and wines further into the evening.

Upon arriving, you’re instantly drawn to the incredible display of cakes, salads and jam-packed rolls on show in glass cabinets, and soon become part of the audience of admiring customers. Pinkmans, being primarily a bakery, also offers a vast array of freshly baked breads – as they say themselves, ‘Bread out the oven at 8am’. From a white sourdough to a more adventurous ‘walnut boule’ (toasted walnuts and black treacle), this truly is a baker’s heaven. Inside, the décor is simple and minimalist – with rows of filament bulbs and long benches making maximum use of the fairly small interior.

For breakfast, a range of meals, including smashed sweet chilli avocado and salsa on toast (£5.50) are available until midday, or til 2p.m. on weekends. Lunches include salads, ciabattas as well as more hearty tagines and hot dishes. Having been to Pinkmans a few times, I decided to branch out and try one of their sourdough pizzas, which you can see being prepared and baked in the ovens at the back of the café. I went for the artichoke pizza (£8.50) – with toppings of artichokes, garlic, pepper, pesto and ricotta. The sourdough base made for a delicious, chewy crust, complemented by the excellent mix of garnishes.

With something for everybody, Pinkmans stands out as a café which attempts and succeeds in providing their customers with fresh food and drinks, making for a relaxed but stylish dining experience.

85 Park Street, Bristol
0117 403 2040