Eastern Promises Fulfilled At Shikumen, Shepherd’s Bush

19th November 2017

Shikumen can be translated to “stone gate” in Mandarin and it is a unique style of housing in Shanghai and was particularly prevalent during the golden era of the 1940s when it was widely regarded as the Paris of the East. It was somewhat of a surprise to discover the aptly named Shikumen restaurant in a very urban part of Shepherd's Bush next to the O2 concert hall beyond countless takeaway shops. It is housed inside the refined Dorsett hotel which owns a string of high-end, luxury hotels in the Far East.

The decor has the type of inch-perfect wall-panelling and precisely curved seating that has probably been consulted by a feng shui master. There are red lanterns, old gramophones and murals with demure ladies dressed in cheongsam dresses; which all helped to evoke that 1940s glamourous vibe.

Even though the evening a la carte menu is less about dim sum but more substantial main course dishes, they still have a steamed vegetarian dim sum platter and spring roll with enoki mushrooms which are great appetisers for those fans of these little parcels of deliciousness. The steamed vegetable dumplings and cong mushroom dumplings had beautifully, thin, translucent skin with the fresh ingredients inside piping hot.

Of the chef's specials, the ever-popular dishes like roasted Peking duck and fresh lobsters are available, but we tried a fiery soft-shelled crab. The presentation was somewhat of a shock, as almost the whole dish was covered with vibrant, red Sichuan chilli peppers and the crabs were also flavoured crispy garlic herbs. It was expertly made so that it had the crunch without being excessively oily.

The other dish I would highly recommend is the roasted Chilean sea bass fillet in honey king sauce. The taste was delicate yet the dish felt substantial and the crispy honey glazed-coating made the dish particularly appetising.

The only set disappointment, I would say is vegetarians are not particularly well-catered for here in terms of main courses. In their “vegetables” section of the menu, 3 of the dishes contains meat and the other 3 dishes contain mushrooms; so if you are a vegetarian who isn't a massive mushrooms fan, you might find picking dishes here a tricky affair. They do offer seasonal vegetables cooked in various ways, but they do come across as more of a side dish rather than the main attraction.

However, overall there are very few Chinese restaurants in west London that are classier and offers more refined dishes as those offered at Shikumen.
For more information on Shikumen, see here.
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