The perfect ingredients for a fantastic dining experience? A head chef who’s worked for – and learnt from – the best, first class food that’s pushing the culinary envelope, service that goes beyond and a location with a buzz.

Bunka, the pop-up restaurant that offers an ever-changing Asian-inspired menu in various locations in Eastbourne and Hastings, and is powered by a trio that can name the likes of Jamie Oliver, Tom Kerridge and Albert Roux on their CVs, has them all – and more.

But with a world class resume comes huge expectations. Head chef Joshua Levy comes fresh from working as the executive chef at Headland Ventures who own the incredible Light At Towner Eastbourne, and The Eight Bells in Jevington.

Tad, Celia and Joshua are the talented trio behind BunkaTad, Celia and Joshua are the talented trio behind Bunka (Image: Bunka)

His first job was for Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo, then the naked chef himself, along with Thomas Keller at three Michelin-star French Laundry in the Napa valley, California, and Jason Atherton in London and the Middle East.

Walking into Journeys, a bijou wine bar on Station Parade in Eastbourne, which was packed by 6pm, I couldn’t wait to see the menu, and more importantly, find out if it delivered.

Tad MacDonald, who worked front of house at The Eight Bells before becoming operations manager for Heist, Boatyard and Farmyard in St. Leonards, had saved us a table for two nearest to the kitchen – the only space left. His wife Celia Farrar is the third member of the partnership and created Europe’s first Poké eatery, Eat Poké, and has written cook books.

The drinks are Asian inspired along with the menuThe drinks are Asian inspired along with the menu (Image: Bunka)

‘I hope you’re hungry’ Tad smiled. ‘It’s a feasting menu so there’s plenty to try.’

With a name that means culture in Japanese and is also a Japanese kitchen knife inspired by the West, it was no surprise to see that the dishes were a fusion of east meets west (mostly Italian and French).

My husband and I smiled. We love trying anything new and like to think we know a bit or two about food – or at least what tastes good. He’s an Italian chef, and I’m a fussy vegetarian, so we’re a tough combination, but there were feasting and vegan feasting menus that looked delicious.

First up were kaffir lime and chilli peanuts, with torched olives and an Umeshu Plum negroni cocktail for Alexio and a Mauy Thai for me. Sharp, refreshing and zesty, mine went down a treat.

The feasting menu is a fusion of East and WestThe feasting menu is a fusion of East and West (Image: Bunka)

Then it was straight into the first course - bincho-grilled Yakitori and red curry sausage flatbread for the meat eater in the family while mine was topped with pineapple kimchi, tomato and vegan mozzarella. ‘Mmmmmm,’ my husband murmured between bites while mine vanished instantly no knife and fork necessary.

Up next were Mussels in XO Sauce for Alexio and Shiitake Yakitori in mission Chinese spice and dipping sauce served with a cucumber salad that came with black fungus and lashings of birdseye chili. The unappetising sounding fungus was a delight, while the Shiitake were deliciously savoury. ‘My lips are tingling,’ my husband announced. He can never have too much spice and was savouring every mouthful.

It meant we quickly downed two more cocktails before switching to wine for the ‘main’ course. Alexio’s was a Bavette steak, cooked medium rare, while I had grilled salt baked celeriac in chilli relish and herbs, served with chilled sweet potato noodles and a pomelo salad for both of us.

The surprising mixture of cold noodles with a sharp grapefruit-like salad was a refreshing change and the celeriac was a beautiful combination of spicy, savoury and smoky. Alexio had his mouth full when Joshua popped out to see what we thought of the food so far.

‘You’re in the wrong place,’ my husband finally said. ‘You should be in London. This is amazing.’ But I wasn’t so sure. Why not treat us Sussex foodies to something special for a change, without having to schlep up to the capital.

Chef Joshua Levy has worked with the best of the bestChef Joshua Levy has worked with the best of the best (Image: Bunka)

I’d been ecstatic when we discovered Light at Towner Eastbourne, the Scandi-inspired eatery that has a jazz club vibe that would sit right at home in Mayfair. But Bunka has the same cosmopolitan culinary flair albeit with an Asian influence. It’s clear that Joshua is a genius in the kitchen while Tad has charisma galore to keep the diners happy in the restaurant.

By now we were full but we were determined to squeeze in dessert: a mango ice cream with coffee caramel, Biscoff and orange cookie for me and a condensed milk version for Alexio. ‘Excellent,’ we both said in unison before polishing off the lot.

It was hard to believe the entire menu, minus drinks, was just £35 each. ‘It changes every time, too,’ Tad said. ‘We don’t want diners to get bored.’ Believe us when we say there is no chance of that.

Bunka is an exciting addition to the Sussex culinary scene bringing world-class food to local restaurants. The team will be hosting pops up in Journeys in Eastbourne on 28 July and 11 August, in Sleeper on Kings Road, St Leonards on 25 July and The Beacon, West Hill, Hastings, on 3 and 10 August. They are also taking up residency at Boatyard, Heist Market, Norman Road, St Leonards every Monday and Tuesday for lunch and dinner for the rest of summer and are looking for a permanent home locally.