Dim Sum are an absolute pleasure, they fill me with joy (and best of all, variety satiety).
I regard them as little presents, neatly wrapped with contents of treasure. Having a quick lunch at the Shikumen with good company and lots of these little presents, make good for an hour of paradise.
The restaurant itself has a moody feel with lots of dark woods and patterned trellising providing privacy. Lots of pretty traditional ceramics are on display on the tables, ready to receive some wonderful tea the Shikumen have on the menu. We tried the Dragon’s well (Zhejian, £2.80) and Yunnan Pu-Erh (£2.50), which were both lovely, aromatic and topped up swiftly by the staff.
Even though both myself and guest had decided on dim sum all the way, I did have a glance at the a la carte menu and was pleased to see a range of interesting dishes; black cod, squirrel fish (Seabass), Pork with bitter melon etc. Their alcohol / drinks menu was also extremely extensive, and I spotted a green tea creme brûlée on the dessert menu, making Shikumen very tempting for a re-visit over dinner sometime.
Our dim sum began to flow to the table very quickly, just what you need on a lunch break! All the dishes we had came in three or four pieces, and we had probably over ordered (curse of the tidbits tummy!).
Pumpkin Seafood Dumpling (£3.80) – Beautiful little balls of sunshine, brightly coloured from the pumpkin, encasing a sweet whole prawn cocooned inside. My friend remarked on how these looked like the little Indian saffron sweets you can get. These worked really well in a little dip of the chilli condiments that are brought to the table to offset the natural sweetness of the dish.
Chicken Taro Croquettes (£3.50) – Now these really did look fantastic. Chicken and mushroom in a deep, rich savoury gravy, deep fried in a crispy pastry web- little grenades of textures and flavour. These were probably my favourite, and there was definitely an air of nostalgia to the dish as it almost had a chicken and mushroom pie feeling to it.Pan-Fried Turnip Cake (£3.20) – My other favourite of the dishes served, this sweet, garlicky, soft (almost fish-like) fleshy textured savoury cake had me going back for more and more. Everything about the dish i found enchanting, in as much as in appearance looks very simple almost bland but its texture and flavour are actually quite complex, wonderful.
Roasted Duck Pumpkin Puff (£3.80) – More balls of sunshine, golden and crisp exterior with a spongy, duck filled gravy inside that had strong peppery notes and a nice little appearance from pine nuts for an added texture and buttery-ness. Crabmeat & Prawn Dumpling (£3.80) – Stunning and almost floral in its presentation, topped with caviar. A lovely, mellow and aromatic flavour with silky seafood, complimented by a hit of sharp spring onion. Baked Venison Puff (£4.20) – Presented on a triangle shaped piece of puff pastry, glazed and topped with sesame seeds. This was very sweet initially but moments later came forth a bit of heat and spiciness, which was welcomed. Another appearance from pine nuts worked with the soft texture of the venison. Char Siew Bun (£3.20) – The staple dish of any dim sum menu. It came to the table in a familiar bun presentation. Sweet red onion made for a crunchy experience, and it was refreshing to receive the bun itself not overly sticky (which can be the case more than often in some places). I would say Shikumen’s pricing with their dim sum menu is spot on, I would definitely come back to a Shikumen restaurant, if not only to get my teeth into that green tea creme brûlée!
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. STARS: ★★★★
(Check their website for other locations)
Shikumen Shepherd’s Bush
58 Shepherd’s Bush Green
Venue phone: 020 8749 9978
Tipping policy: http://www.shikumen.co.uk/shepherds-bush/contact/