Harden's survey result
“Spice heaven!” – this “old favourite” is “worth a detour north of Shaftesbury Avenue” to “experience genuinely interesting and mouth-popping Sichuan specials” – so “be brave when you order”. The food-writer, China expert and consultant “Fuchsia Dunlop’s touch makes it a regional Chinese diamond in the Chinatown rough”.
“One of Soho’s best” – the Sichuan food in this well-known café is “first-rate” – “really spicy and delicious”. Much of the menu is not for the faint-hearted, but “it’s always possible to avoid overly hot dishes with the aid of the helpful staff”.
“Less a meal than a dare!” – the “seriously spicy cooking gives way to rich depths of flavour for the strong-hearted and willed” at this “excellent” Soho café. “If you want a Sichuan fix, go!” – there are “some real lip-smackers in there, including some wonderful unusual dishes (smacked cucumber, gung bao chicken, ants climbing trees…)”, but “you still suffer Chinatown-style woes – sometimes indifferent service, and poor ambience”.
“If you like really good spicy food, look no further” – this Sichuan café in Soho shows a “rare fidelity” to the fiery cuisine, and provides “a good alternative to the standard Chinese in nearby Chinatown”. “Favourites include numbing and hot dried beef, and dry wok pig intestines”.
Barshu Restaurant Diner Reviews
"The men in our party rated the food highly - even if a little too spicy. But the ladies could not eat theirs - too hot and spicy. A pity - if the staff had been more attentive they would have discussed the food before ordering and warned about the hot spices."
"The food is not quite as exceptional as 10 years ago, but still excellent and phenomenal value. The pork slivers and chicken with chillis two examples, be ready to sweat. A very good and reliable Soho classic. "
|Wine per bottle||£23.90|
Bar Shu W1
Are the media - heaven forbid - sometimes prone to exaggeration? Are merely interesting restaurant sometimes hailed as great? Is there sometimes an element of group-think among leading critics? These, and many more, thoughts were inspired by our visit to this new Soho Chinese - a restaurant which has provoked an almost unprecedented Halleluiah Chorus of positive reviews (abetted by much foodie froth about the cuisine of Sichuan, which is a relative London rarity)
The headline fact about Sichuan cooking is that it can be take-the-roof-off-your-mouth hot. So - for four blokes sitting around our critical table, beers at the ready - it came as something of a let-down to find that the spicing of some dishes specifically ordered for their three-chilli menu was just tame. A prominently featured chicken dish was particularly timid, verging on tasteless. Perhaps the chillis just hadn't arrived that day.
There's more to life, of course, than crying chilli-induced tears, and other dishes lived up more closely to our high expectations. Or so half the table thought anyway - Chinese cuisines seem able, perhaps to a unique extent - to take different people different ways. For example, a huge bowl of reasonably spicy mixed offal (ox heart, tripe, tongue' you know the sort of thing) was disgusting to half the table, sublime to the other. Greens in peanut sauce was off-putting to two of the party, but mesmerised the taste buds of other two. At least everyone could agree that thinly sliced duck with egg was unusually subtle.
If the spicing of more dishes had lived up to their billing, one could perhaps have written off the objections of the unconvinced as just the whinging of those not men enough for such a genuine oriental feast. From our visit, however, this seems just a very interesting - but erratic - contributor to the oriental dining scene.
28 Frith St, London, W1D 5LF
|Monday||12 pm‑11 pm|
|Tuesday||12 pm‑11 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm‑11 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑11 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑11:30 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑11:30 pm|
|Sunday||12 pm‑11 pm|