Review of Shikumen Restaurant
Stylish Chinese restaurant Shikumen opened its second site in Oct on bustling Shepherds Bush Green, offering an extensive all day A la carte, a handcrafted Dim Sum and set menu. Executive Director Simon Chai describes it’s new flagship restaurant as the doorway from East to Western culture, a pairing the very best of British produce with Chinese saucing, garnish and taste.
On arrival I am impressed with the size of the restaurant which takes up to 150 covers. Traditional decor colours, lantern features, a contemporary sleek flare mixed with its dim lighting, makes a romantic and relaxed dinner setting.
I preordered the traditional Chinese Peking Duck, carved by the chef at our table. The thinly sliced duck looked appealing straight away, the glazed deep red coating was sticky and sweet with a thin layer of fat for a tender rich moreish meat.
Served with both baos (steamed Chinese buns) and Homemade Pancakes with Hoisin sauce, Shredded Spring Onion and Cucumber. It was like having Chinese tapas filling the each pocket with slithers of crunchy fresh veg, tangy sweet sauce and layers of duck all in one.
The left over duck was mixed into vermicelli noodles which were disappointing, gloopy greasy and dull in colour. Appetizing after a few drinks but not on a night of dining best to have chosen the fried rice instead.
The Dim Sum platter was visually vibrant and stunning in flavour, each dumpling stuffed full with minced seafood and delicately wrapped. Served with a sweet chilli ketchup and chilli oil but surprisingly no soy – was not missed!
For my main I tried the Fried Black Cod Fillet with Old Town Sauce. Having tried this same dish at a fine dining Chinese restaurant in London I was let down by the oilness of the fish. I knew prior to ordering it will be deep fried but the fish skin was soggy from the tamarind like bronzed sauce it was smothered in. The Old Town Sauce on the other hand was a delight, sour but sweet with a zesty aftertaste. Not the most attractive looking dish but looks were definitely deceiving.
The Stir fried Prawns in Sichuan Wine Sauce were plump and meaty, juicy and not rubbery with the vein removed. We would of preferred more of a chilli kick and hoped for a robust rich flavour from the wine. The prawns on a bed of lettuce is very old school style of presentation, Chinese restaurants have moved on immensely from unnecessary garnish on a plate.
Shikumen has the makings of a fantastic local Chinese restaurant, saying staff were attentive was understatement, incredibly helpful and polite with excellent knowledge of the menu.
However Shikumen could struggle due to local competition who are serving food at much more affordable prices – Black Cod was £18.50 minus the rice. There are 5 other Chinese / Asian style restaurants within walking distance which are always packed full of diners. Saying that if you are looking for more a fine dining Asian restaurant then Shikumen is right up your street, the area certainly has the lack of more classy establishments.
The food highlights were the chef special’s of Peking duck and Dim Sum, both in keeping with authentic Chinese flavours with a new the modern style of Chinese cooking.