Aqua 8– small but swanky mid price restaurant in central Ipswich offering ‘Creative Pan Asian’ cuisine and currently the top of my ‘Must Revisit’ list.
I discovered them on recommendation for a half decent Chinese before a theatre outing in Suffolk’s county town, in doing so discovering the high point of an otherwise disappointing weekend. But enough of that.
It’s a small but oh so shiny venue, tucked away on Lion Street in the town centre. The decor is certainly swish, heavy on mirrored surfaces and strategic coloured lighting that leaves it just a breath away from being unpleasantly flashy. The menu is extensive and mouthwatering to consider, offering your standard staples of sweet and sours, thai curries and dim sum backed up with some serious gastronomical fodder in the way of soft shell crab, wasabi steaks and a very good selection of fish. Gluten free menus are available and they also offer more tofu options than you could shake a vegan at.
We went for their early bird set dinner, being pressed for time and the ability to make decisions on such a wide menu, and we weren’t disappointed. We started with a fantastic sharer including a knock out chicken satay and perfectly executed salt and chilli squid. This was followed up by a simple but beautifully presented meat and seafood main course with a fat pot of sticky rice on the side. I could say king prawns, sweet and sour, beef in black bean. I actually mean wonderfully fragrant prawns in an intricate golden funnel; thin sirloin strips in a dark and oozy flavour packed sauce served in a woven rice noodle basket and cantonese style sweet & sour pork that, well, I could eat. Sweet & Sour for me is up there with lasagna, scampi and squid in my top never ordered restaurant options quite simply because if they aren’t perfect, they are out and out vile and will ruin my day as much as my meal.
A wide range of funny teas were available for the boy and tinpot by the glass left me a happily hydrated camper also. We didn’t get to dessert.
This isn’t a budget option but I didn’t feel a need to call the wallet police either, our above adventure came out at sixty quid and some small change though those less fond of a kiwi sauvignon than myself could save on that total. The service is fantastic and friendly without invasion and the surroundings just jazzy enough to make it feel like a special occasion- even if you are flying in at half five on a Saturday afternoon in a rush to get fed before curtain up.
It was a very good meal, the best of it’s kind I have had and I am actively seeking reasons to go back and try out the menu proper, though I suspect we may return for the ‘chef’s choice’ where you specify your preference for meat or fish or both and see what the kitchen thinks is best that day. Maybe we can add a chapter to the 3rd shortest book in the world as declared by my Father ‘Great Nights Out In Ipswich’.
No, I’m not telling you what the first two are, I would be banned from the internet.
menu, directions and full site here http://aquaeight.com/