Sunday, 4 October 2015

Shikumen - Shepherd's Bush (London)

Having grown up in Beijing, there's always a slight hesitation in visiting Chinese restaurants in London.  I hate being disappointed, especially when it comes to eating out, and with Chinese food, it's just more personal.  My heart sinks at the sight of soft wrinkled skin on Peking ducks, or the taste of oversweetened generic meat coated in grease.   I therefore had my reservations when I went to Shikumen -- the Chinese restaurant that has received praise by the likes of of Fay Maschler

Situated inside the Dorsett Hotel in Shepherd's Bush, Shikumen is grand and spacious with the elegant style of Shanghai in the 40's with that touch of East meets West.  The menu is neatly divided into different sections and the choices are aplenty.

Of the Chef's Specials, there was of course the Peking Duck that is cooked in every Chinese restaurant outside of China.  It is meant to be incredible but I went for the Crispy Duck.  It came with the similar pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and plum sauce, all there for you to make the perfect little wrap.  The skin of the duck was delightfully crunchy, the shredded meat was flavorful, and together with the relishes it was a sublime way of starting the meal.

 There then came a dim sum selection, that, whilst delicious, was slightly confusing.  The selection was different in terms of physical appearances - some were yellow, some were white, some where round and some were oval -- but they tasted pretty identical.  They all encased whole prawns mixed with herbs and condiments, and the wrapper was thin and translucent with just the right sticky and chewy texture.  Difficult to fault altogether, though just lacking a bit of variation for a "selection".

The quintessential Cantonese dish of Beef Chow Fun  -- wide rice noodles stir fried with beef, bean sprouts and spring onions -- was frustrating at Shikumen.  It was frustrating because it was just right with the balance of flavors from the different sauces, and the crunchy bean sprouts, and the tender beef strips, but the overcooked texture of the noodles prevented the dish from being perfect.  Let's hope I was just unlucky and that usually they hit the nail on the head with that chow fun.
The stars of the evening were the Three Cup Chicken and the Steamed Fish.  The chicken thighs came in a sizzling hot earth-ware pot, and were glazed in a sweet sticky sauce with a tingling heat from the star anise and szechuan peppercorns.  The fish, though a tad dry from maybe a just a few too many minutes in the steamer, was light, fragrant with ginger and quickly consumed.
Happy to say that as a picky Chinese foodie I was overall pleasantly surprised with Shikumen.  Yes, there were some faults here and there with the cooking times but in terms of flavors they're pretty bang on with the food.  The service was however a bit of a let down -- maybe it was just a bad night and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.  A night where the waiters were unattentive and spoke little English, all except for the Assistant Manager who was as kind and helpful as you could hope for from any sort of establishment. 

Shikumen are adding a single red dumpling to every order of Xiao Long Bao throughout October to honour President Xi Jinping’s State visit to London

Shikumen Shepherd's Bush
Dorsett Hotel
58 Shepherd's Bush Green
W12 8QE
020 8749 9978
Monday to Saturday: 12:00 to 23:00
Sunday: 11:30 to 22:30

1 comment:

  1. This food looks seriously good I have to say, thanks for the place recommendation!


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