Heading over to East Anglia next weekend? May I suggest, a visit to Aqua Eight in Ipswich. For a true fine dining, pan-Asian dining experience along with live DJ’s rocking their mix-sets in the gorgeous and laidback garden. Located at Lion Street, It is easily commutable from the Ipswich train station, but don’t forget, as it is a fine dining venue, a smart dress code is required (however from my personal perspective, why would you be dressing down if you are visiting a place where you are looking to spend the monies? They say, dressing well is not only a sign of respect for the venue, your dining partner/s but also a sign of respect for yourself).
The sophisticated and enticing design of the exterior does remind me of the capital, if you didn’t hear about the review or see the queue of guests eagerly determined to get themselves inside the restaurant and bar you wouldn’t think this hidden gem existed. The bold blue lights shining behind the iconic Aqua logo, draws a welcome to guests or passer-by, the building is a little rusty due to the building is over 200 years old but as you walk towards the front door, it is a different world altogether. You will find a combination of classy with a futuristic interior design when you enter. Classy as it wasn’t overdone with pretentious setting, classy because it was simple yet elegant. Futuristic and you can tell the décor was carefully chosen by the owners.
They have an extensive menu which varies from season to season, however their signature dishes and other classic dishes are always available. There are also menus for vegetarian diners as well as gluten-free dinners so there is always something for everyone. Prefer cocktails? their ‘wine flight’ which ranges between 3 and 8 wines are presented for tasting, their horizontal flight compares the same type of wine by different makers and the vertical choices compares the wine by the same makers across a number of different years. The ingredients are always fresh as Aqua Eight works with local farmers and suppliers who supply them daily and the meats are always organic.
I was solicitously welcomed by the friendly owner which was rare as most owners do not welcome guests personally but it made me feel respected. As I was new to area I was given a quick tour of the venue and I felt like I had returned home because I know exactly where everything was. I rarely order seafood fried rice in many venues however the Seafood Fried Rice with Tobiko at Aqua Eight deserves my love. This is because the seafood is properly cooked together and the tobiko is applied above the rice, this made the rice more appealing than a standard rice dish. As a lover of scallops, I enjoy eating the scallops along with king prawns in the rice.
The King Prawns with Red Chilli and Curry Leaf is a sweet but delicious dish, the red chilli brings out the taste of the king prawns, if I didn’t read the menu I would assume the shells were removed but having the shells on really keeps the original freshness of the prawns which I enjoyed. The Thai Chilli Sea bass is beautifully presented, I enjoy the red filo pastry above the sea bass which made the dish the centre of the attention. It was cooked ‘just right’, it tasted very velvety but smooth (something I know other venues overcook theirs). Their Tea Smoked Honey Ribs is suitable for gluten-free diners who enjoy a good ribs with their meals. I personally like the honey in the dish and it wasn’t sticky and didn’t stick to my chiffon top when I accidentally dropped it.
As I have a sweet tooth, I am interested in their desserts as I know the desserts are carefully created for a unique and memorable taste. Their Chilli and Chocolate Bake is tastier than Roka’s Dark Chocolate and Green Tea Pudding, because I enjoy the richness of the chocolate bake. The last dessert is a combination of Mango Compote, Apple Panna Cotta, Green Tea Ice-Cream and Banana Filo Pastry which is perfect for dessert lovers who is looking to order a few at the same time.
The Aqua Garden is relaxing for a drink or two but come the weekend and you find DJ’s that plays relaxing house music and occasionally some soul music (please contact the venue to find out the exact dates). I highly recommend Aqua Eight when you visit Suffolk not only for the food, but also for the memorable fine dining and lively atmosphere. Aqua Eight is the reason why I enjoy fine dining. Any foodies interested in a meal at Aqua soon?
The dishes I ordered:
Seafood Fried Rice with Tobiko
King Prawns with Red Chilli and Curry Leaf
Thai Chilli Sea bass
Tea Smoked Honey Ribs
Chilli and Chocolate Bake
Mango Compote, Apple Panna Cotta, Green Tea Ice-Cream and Banana Filo Pastry
Still VOSS Water
Find Aqua Eight:
8 Lion Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 1DQ