I love dim sum. I love the delicate, bite sized steamed parcels of succulent meat and fish. I love the fact you're meant to order loads of different morsels, a bit like Chinese tapas. And I love the way you're meant to spend a few hours eating a little here and there. Ever since I visited a friend in Hong Kong a few years ago I've been in love with this type of cuisine and the thought of somewhere new opening not a million miles away from my flat fills me with joy.
Let me introduce you to Fu Manchu, a bar come nightclub come dim sum restaurant around the corner from Clapham North tube station. Now, I'll be the first to admit that the concept sounds horrendous. The last thing I want to feel whilst eating dim sum is that I'm in a club, especially as dim sum is traditionally ate in the afternoon. Also, I think the name is a bit dodgy as it perpetuates a Chinese caricature but I guess this wasn't raised as an issue during planning... But bear with me at my experience was very positive. I, like a lot of people, am tempted by soft launch discounts. On this occasion may have only been 20% every little counts and being only a short distance from Wimbledon I was more than happy to check it out last Friday night.
I was pleasantly surprised by the cocktail menu, lots of interesting ingredients and combinations to ponder. I went for the Lady Jasmine which was a nice, not-too-sweet gin, lemon and jasmine mixture. I was expecting it to be a little bitter but it wasn't at all, much to my enjoyment as I prefer sweet or sour cocktails. Steve had a Lotus Juice Cup which was tasted a little like a mojito, very nice.
1. king prawn dumplings in translucent skin - these were delicious, the prawns had a nice bite to them but were not overcooked. The dumpling was light and delicate.
5. pork and crab sauce dumpling - a nice dense, meaty centre in a delicate dumpling skin. A very traditional dumpling, this was nicely done.
6. honey barbecue pork fluffy bun and 27. sweet spiced mutton puff - I think these got mixed up with as we were given four similar looking puffs. I think Steve and I managed to take two of the same rather than one of each. I'm pretty sure I had the pork which was perfectly sticky and sweet.
8. monkfish and lime dumpling - this was a combination I've never had in dumpling form before and it was an interesting one. The sharp lime cut through the delicate fish and the end result was very Thai inspired. Whilst I did enjoyed this I think I prefer the more traditional flavours.
14. beef and pumpkin dumpling - another unusual taste I hadn't experienced before but it was definitely a success. This sweet pumpkin heightened the intense flavour of the beef making for a very rich filling.
15. turnip cake - this was wonderful, the texture was soft but shrimp filling added a textural edge. I didn't notice the Chinese sausage but despite that I enjoyed this plate very much.
19. salt, pepper and chilli squid - the quid was coated in a lovely, light, tempura batter. The chilli gave this a real hot kick and the chunks of squid had a great bite without being overcooked.
33. hot and sour rare beef and broccoli - probably my least favourite dish of the evening but mainly because it was a lot hotter than I was expecting. As you can see the beef was nice and rare and the broccoli was perfectly al dente. It made a nice change to all the dumplings but in comparison to the delicate textures this was in stark contrast.
I really enjoyed my dinner at Fu Manchu, the food was a lot better than I was expecting and I can definitely see myself returning. I like that the restaurant is situated underneath the railway arches, you can hear the trains chugging by and the exposed brick work juxtaposed with the classic Chinese screens gives the room a modern vibe. I wasn't a fan of the increasing music volume or the neon lighting but don't let that stop you trying the food, just make sure you get there earlier enough to avoid the 'club' vibe. I don't know how this club-restaurant experience will pan out but I feel that if this concept will kick of anywhere, it'll probably be on Clapham High Street. I'm just happy there's a decent place to grab dim sum not too far from where I live.
The soft launch is on for another week so try and grab a table to make the most of 20% discount.