Review on Barshu
The name 'Bar Shu' is a poetic reference to the ancient kingdoms that make up the Chinese province of Szechuan, and this hot Soho restaurant aims to promote and celebrate its cuisine in palate-tantalising detail.
The owner claims that his place is the biggest Szechuan venue in Europe: it straddles two floors and is pleasantly furnished with lots of intricate carved wood, orange lanterns and antique temple statues. If you're a newcomer to the cuisine (and most people are), the menu comes with illuminating illustrations and staff are genuinely helpful.
Elemental fire from scorching hot chillies and Szechuan peppercorns defines much of the cooking, and the kitchen parades many of the region's class-A esoteric ingredients including jellied duck's blood and pig's stomachs. The centrepiece is 'huo guo', a complex hotpot involving a stock-based soup, a vat of oil and spices and various raw ingredients for dipping and cooking, fondue-style: be prepared to take your time over this.
Elsewhere on the menu are fascinating dishes with fascinating names: 'pock-marked old woman's beancurd', 'fire-exploded kidney flowers' and 'man-and-wife offal slices', for example. Other intriguing possibilities to look out for are 'numbing and hot' dried beef, turbot with salted chillies and more familiar offerings like Szechuan chicken, red-cooked pork and dan-dan noodles - in case you baulk at the prospect of stewed frog jelly in papaya!
Fu Wen Hong
Restaurant Opening Times
Lunch: 12.00 through until
Accepted credit cards
Visa, Master Card