Bar Shu – eaten and reviewed
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Regular readers may have noticed that I always give a bit of extra praise to restaurants that provide that little something extra. This could be fantastic service, the best cooking imaginable or, in probably my favourite cases, food that you just doesnâ€™t see anywhere else.
This is certainly the case at Bar Shu, which I have read in many places to provide a number of traditional Sichuan cooking, something that I must say I have never experienced first hand but seems to contain everything I could want; spice, exotic ingredients and intrigue.
Ross says –
Covering three floors of trendy Soho this place opened up last year to great aplomb after shipping in five chefâ€™s from China to head up their team. On a Wednesday night the bottom floor was full, the upper floors also seemed to be getting that way so the place must still be getting rave reviews. Staff were kitted out with Britney Spears style headsets with which to communicate with the kitchen and each other; I found it rather funny and expected them to start signing at any time.
The menu did indeed contain, as expected, a number of â€œinterestingâ€ sounding dishes with typical Chinese banquet dishes such as Abalone and Sharks Fin up against things like preserved duck eggs and male and female offal. The design of the menu relied greatly on pictures with the text almost being of a secondary importance but after much flicking I thought I (and Gemma) would have a punt at:
- Flash fried tripe slivers (starter)
- Numbing and hot dried beef (starter)
- Fragrant and hot clay bowl crab
- Boiled beef in an â€œextremely spicy soupâ€
- Fire exploded kidney flowers
In a similar fashion to St John (last months review) I was going to be eating meat that I had never done so before (tripe) and I was close to going for more but thought that a â€œsaferâ€ option would be a good choice. While I have no idea as to if anything was cooked to perfection I can, as always, provide my opinion on how each tasted â€“ the main taste was that of spice!
Of the two starters I have to say that I thought that tripe was the best! Being cut into slivers meant that they looked good on the plate and none of the funny texture of the inner stomach (what tripe actually is) could be seen. The spicy oil gave the meat a bit of kick and they had the bite of alâ€™dente noodles â€“ good stuff. Nambing and hot dried beef tasted rather like South African Biltong; I like Biltong though as was very happy!
Main courses were probably all as good as each other, all wee good but all also had one thing that I didnâ€™t really like about them. The crab was served in the shell and cut up into pieces; the idea was to eat it similar to a lobster but the hot, spicy sauce made it a real pain to try and pluck out the meat inside (which was delicious). The boiled beef just seemed to be rather fatty (undoubtedly due to the fact that the fat was just boiled opposed to fried) and this was a shame as the soup was really good and probably would have gone excellently with fried beef! The kidney flowers were the best of the main courses but didnâ€™t seem to be as crispy as described in the menu â€“ saying that Gemma was very much against the idea but probably ate more of them than I did â€“ she really liked them!
One thing that did piss me off was that I was told I wasnâ€™t allowed to take pictures (thankfully I was only told this AFTER my starters) and this made me feel like more of an annoyance than a valued customer, but hey, for most normal people I guess this isnâ€™t too much of a problem. The waiters were all nice and friendly and helped me make menu choices and telling me all about what I was looking to order. Portions were pretty huge and for most of the dishes I thought prices were good; the same canâ€™t be said for beer (Â£3.80 for a 3330ml bottle!)
All in all I would like to come back as there was lots on the menu that interested me. For a normal meal though the lack of any â€œsafe optionsâ€ may put people off going â€“ but if you like you Chinese food and want to sample something a bit different itâ€™s certainly worth an effort!Tweet