Aqua Eight is one of the best Asian restaurants I have eaten in. I would easily put in the same bracket as London’s Hakkasan and Nobu. Unlike those two restaurants, Aqua Eight is based in Ipswich, not London. Lucky for me, it is my local, and favourite restaurant in Suffolk.
Tucked away in a corner of the town, Aqua Eight comprises of a funky bar downstairs with an award winning restaurant, upstairs. Guests are welcome for just the bar and on busy nights you can expect a packed bar and a buzzing restaurant.
The well stocked bar offers a wide range of beers, wine and cocktails. The Pink Mojitos, served with a curly straw in what looks like a jam jar, is my current favourite.
Upstairs, the food is Pan-Asian fusion. The menu is wide in scope and style with plenty of of options for vegetarians and support for allergies and Gluten free diners. The starters are just out of this world. Our favourite dishes include the wonderfully light Crayfish and vermicelli California rice rolls or vegetable rice rolls with a peanut dip, and Thai chicken lemongrass skewers. The skewers are sticks of lemongrass supporting a succulent piece of chicken that makes it look like a lollipop!
We usually overorder on starters because it is so tasty and so easy. The Mixed Hors D’Oeuvres (Meat, Seafood or Vegetarian) include a wide variety of dishes on one large platter. The centrepiece of Salt & Pepper Deep Fried Squid is just immense. I don’t think we have ever eaten there and not ordered Mixed Hors D’Oeuvres of some description.
Main courses include plenty of meaty choices. ‘Standard’ asian dishes like Sweet & Sour Pork are supported by more innovative dishes. The Honey Glazed Roast Pork with Asparagus presents sweet, thick strips of pork laid across batons of fresh Asparagus. Definitely worth the wait!
Fishy dishes include the Alaskan black cod with Miso – a fine piece of fresh fish, gently draped in thick and sweet Miso dressing. To me, this dish equals if not betters a similar dish at Hakkasan.
Not to be left out, the Veggies are well supported with vegetable and Tofu mains. The Braised aubergine and morinaga tofu in black bean sauce with chilli is worthy of a mention.
And that’s before I’ve mentioned the wonderful steamed rice, fine noodles and supporting Monk’s Vegetables, Pak Choi and more.
Do you know, I am writing this the morning after our last meal and I am already salivating for a return trip!
Lead by Co-Founder Vince at the front of house, Aqua Eight combine style with fantastic food and excellent service. I think that one sign of a good restaurant is a loyal staff and Aqua Eight is supported by a team of people we have known now for 6 or 7 years.
Where is Aqua Eight?
The restaurant is just off the main Cornhill, and a five minute cab ride from the railway station. There is large, well lit car park on Elm Street, just three minutes walk.
It is advisable to book ahead as the restaurant is full most weekends. You can book online through their site (using Open Table) or call them direct.
What do I wear to Aqua Eight?
Smart casual is definitely the way forward. You can get away with Jeans and a shirt but equally you can get dressed up and not look out of place. This one of the few places in Suffolk, that Katherine can throw on a beautiful frock and enjoy!
The History of Aqua Eight
Aqua Eight opened in 2006, set up by brothers Patrick and Vincent. Their family, the Wing Chungs introduced some of the first Chinese restaurants to East Anglia and their father had built up a chain of successful Chinese restaurants in the UK, including a branch in London’s Old Brompton Road.
Patrick is in charge of the menu, with Vincent in charge with the ‘front of house’ and guest experience. Since their opening, the restaurant has won many accolades, including , Suffolk Food & Drink Awards “Best Restaurant” a year after launching. In 2011, Aqua Eight was voted UK Runners Up in the Observer Food & Drink Monthly Awards, in both categories of “Best Place to Eat” and “Best Place to Drink” and the Open Table Diners’ Choice Award. The restaurant is rated “Excellent” on Tripadvisor.