I don’t very often venture into the city, but weekends are probably the best time to make an exception (when the streets are much more calm and peaceful!), especially when there is the prospect of a good quality dim sum feast that awaits me at my destination.
Shikumen first opened in 2014 and currently has four branches in London – their large flagship located in the Dorsett Hotel on Shepherd’s Bush Green, was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2015. A restaurant offering Chinese fine dining, Shikumen is so called after the traditional Shanghai stone house architecture of the 1940’s whose stone gatehouses were influenced by Western traders as they made their was to the gateway to the East.
Tucked away on the first floor of the Dorsett City Hotel, is their latest branch that opened about six months ago. There weren’t exactly any visible signs from the outside (or perhaps I was too distracted following the directions on Citymapper), but once inside I was pretty impressed with how spacious it was, with its modern and stylish interior that gives the feeling of being transported back to Asia.
We started with a pot of tea, the perfect pairing with dim sum – we went for a cleansing pu-erh, because dad always used to order it at Chinese restaurants. “Drink tea to wash down the oily food!”, as dad would say … I can’t really vouch for its detoxifying properties, but tea certainly has a soothing effect after.
I also had the Shikumen Jade cocktail, made with green Chartreuse Midori, lychee liqueur, fresh lime and lychee, whilst Lili had the more innocent alcohol-free Lychee Mojito – you can probably tell that we both love lychee and all things sweet.
The steamed dim sum seafood platter came with four different varieties: scallop shui mai topped with tobiko, Chinese chive prawn dumplings, har gau, and pumpkin seafood dumplings – all of which I would have ordered from the menu, so choosing the platter was a no-brainer. The colours were bright and inviting, and the glistening dumpling skins were really tender and thin, yet held together well without falling apart when picked up. Each filling was well-marinated with plenty of herbs and mixed with finely chopped vegetables that gave it some texture. I was particularly fond of the scallop shui mai with the finishing touches of tobiko on top. I usually tend to eat my dim sum with some chilli sauce, but they tasted good even on their own – that fresh, bouncy feeling in each bite is rather satisfying.
Shanghai xiao long bao is my regular go-to when having dim sum – those tasty, delicate steamed soup dumplings that all dim sum lovers would be familiar with. I’m not a professional to judge the number of folds/pleats, but I was happy with thickness of it that held well without breaking when lifted, that released that steaming stock with flavoursome meat that brought a smile of content to my face. Dipped in some vinegar with ginger, a good xiao long bao is like a little taste of heaven.
The crispy grilled eel and seaweed cheung fun was just as good as I remembered – I first tried it at the Finchley Road branch and I would definitely recommend ordering it if you like something different from your regular cheung fun options. That moist texture of the eel with a slight hint of crispiness, flavoured with a sweet and tangy marinade, wrapped together in a silky smooth, translucent skin – so good that you’d be tempted to order another one for yourself. Sharing is sometimes not obligatory in these kind of situations.
We ordered a couple of fried dim sum dishes. The manager recommended the deep fried turnip puff pastry which had beautiful lamination, and although deep fried, it was not very oily, but instead as light and crisp as it could be. The roasted duck pumpkin puffs were shaped like mini pumpkins which was rather cute – lovely crunchy shell filled with tender roasted duck meat.
And although fried rice can seem like a simple, common dish, their XO fried rice took it to another level. It was fried together with scrumptious pieces of prawns and scallops, and plenty of tobiko that gave that pleasant mouth-popping feel with each mouthful – I could happily eat this all-day, everyday. Regular fried rice will never taste as good now, I must find a way to replicate this recipe …
As all meals should finish with something sweet (one of those unwritten rules that all should adhere to), we shared one of the popular desserts amongst diners: the lychee cheesecake (did I mention how much I love lychee?), and a mango pudding. I really liked the cheesecake which was really light and smooth, and not too sweet.
Shikumen remains one of my favourite dim sum places in London – if anyone is looking for weekend (or even weekday) dim sum recommendations, then remember to add this to your list! You will definitely be spoilt for choice with their impressive selection of handmade dim sum, and many more mouth-watering Asian-inspired dishes. I’m already looking forward to my next visit, maybe the Shepherd’s Bush branch which I have been told has even more extensive menu (!)
I can’t believe that I have missed ordering their Legendary Roasted Peking Duck and lobster – this must be rectified soon.
The Cheekster, signing out x
- I was invited to review, but views remain my own.