County Hall, Riverside Building, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7PB
“Zen China specializes in Imperial Beijing cuisine, with a focus on traditional North Chinese regional cooking, influenced by the imperial tradition. Zen China’s signature dish is the Authentic Beijing Roast Duck, as known as Peking Duck. We are...” more...
16 reviews of Bar Shu in English
Superb Sichuan restaurant. I’ve tried a few now and Shu was far and away the best. Not the cheapest, mind. We tried Ants Climbing Trees (a dish I saw everywhere I went in China but failed to order) and were very pleased we did. Bean curd noodles with ground pork in a spicy sauce. Really good.
Even better was the sliced beef in ridiculously hot sauce – so many chillies! Lovely stuff.
Two dishes, rice, two beers and service cam to just under £40.
Bar Shu is one of Chinatown's staples. It is a Szechuanese restaurant, so the food it serves is hot and spicy. Its dark furniture and intimate tables help make it a fave dating hangout for Chinese embassy staff, as well as clued-up Londoners -- spesh those not averse to their date smelling of garlic for the rest of the evening ;-). The decor is nice, memorable and well-though out, and the restaurant also has at least one room set aside for group bookings, including stags, hens etc... keen to cash in non its "extreme eating" label. Other than the usual Szechuanese chili dishes, the braver -- and hungrier -- among you cold ask for the Szechuanese hotpot. This is better if there is a large group at the table, as it is a shared dish. Be warned it may not be to your western tastes, but does give a nice authentic -- and copious -- flavor of China. The bar also stocks some quite strong Chinese liquors for those inclined to experiment there, but be warned you may not remember how you got back home. If indeed you do. On the downside is the price, which is way above the usual Chinatown level, at almost 50 pounds a head. And it is the price that brings back the star rating, as it takes the restaurant just out of the comfortably affordable range, where it should by rights belong.
Went here a few months back, and was surprisingly treated to a good meal of Szechuan food. You’ll start off noticing the Ming Dynasty-style furniture in this pretty large place, but you’ll forget about that once you start eating the hot, spicy, and delicious food.
I loved the Szechuan hotpot and “Numbing and Hot Dried Beef” - as they’ve translated it. But the party I went with all said the side dishes they ordered were good too.
Price-wise, you could go as low as 5 pounds for a bowl of noodles, but for a whole meal, you would probably reach about 15 pounds per person for a good meal.
This is an oasis of non Cantonese fare just north of Chinatown producing very good Sichuan cuisine.
My interest in the place was encouraged by the involvement as a consultant of the British food writer Fuchsia Dunlop as I had read her delightful book on Sichuan cooking. The first Westerner to train at the famed Sichuan cookery school in Chengdu, this lady knows her onions )and chillis)
All the starters on offer are cold, although smaller starter-sized portions of street foods including Dan-Dan noodles and dumplings in chilli oil are to be found at the back of the menu.
I recommend the Numbing-tongue Dried Beef with Sichuan Peppercorns to get your taste buds ready for what may follow - if you have been to Sichuan please note the food here is a toned down unless you request it Sichuan hot.
Over the last 18 months I have eaten most tings on the menu and recommend you try everything be it the well known Kung Po Chicken or Prawns to tripe or the amazing hot pot. Many dishes are not for the faint hearted.
The wine list is very poor and not thought through even though I understand it is difficult to choose wines that compliment this type of cuisine. I would like to see some Pino Grigio from North East Italy as well as some good Alsace.
Some of the nicest Sichuanese food i have ever had. I’d highly recommend the Gongbao Chicken and if you have deep pockets, and are up for indulging yourself, the Shuizhu fish (basically cod with 1000 chillis on it. Pretty darn hot!) is excellent. So the food here gets 5 stars, the service probably gets 3 stars.
If you’re in china town/soho and are craving something a bit different, Bar Shu is definitely a decent bet.
A restaurant serving very authentic Sichuan cuisine. It’s not your usual chinese restaurant and cannot be compared with many of the chinese restaurants in China Town. Service is not bad either. You may want to ask the waitress to recommend some of their signature dishes like (ShuiZhu Fish / meat). Dont be sacred with red chilies as no one would eat them. they are there for adding spice to the food and garnishing. Look out for the prices as if not careful, the bill can easily be over £60 (without alcohol).
Bar Shu is a very interest restaurant in Soho. Being outside the normal Chinatown catchement you wouldn’t quite expect to find a good restaurant here, especially as at night this area is a bit seedy (be warned, my female Chinese friend got accosted when she went out to make a phone-call).
The food is styled from the Sichuan region and as such many of the dishes are very hot and spicy. The restaurant’s signiture dish is a fish in chilli oil dish. Very spicy without much else which was a disapointment.
Helpful hint however, the restaurant will let you take the chilli’s home with you in a box, perfect to flavor dishes for weeks to come :)
Other dishes are above-average to excellent and as such I am always happy to come to this place. There is a lot of space inside, including some private rooms but I’ve found on Fridays it is very full and you might want to book, (There’s no where to sit inside waiting to be seated).
Prices are moderate to high, I think the £20 estimate another reviewer mentioned is probably on the low-side but is possible if you stick to Green Tea and don’t take the very large dishes such as the fish above.
I’ve been to China for a number of months before and sadly I’ve yet to find a Restaurant that really matches the food I had in the different provinces. However Bar Shu really does make a good attempt at it and I’d honestly recommend you try it at least once, (remember to order some tap water!) :)
Probably my favourite Chinese restaurant in the whole of the UK, and the only place I've been to where the food tastes so authentic you could actually be paying 50p a head. Of course, you're not, you're in Soho and you're paying more like 20 quid a head, but the illusion is nice until you get the bill. Having said that, if you factor in that I paid 700 quid to fly to Chengdu to eat this stuff, it's relatively good value.
The weird taste sensation (ma) you get from the pepper corns has to be experienced. It's almost like going to the dentists and having your gums injected, in the best possible sense of that experience! I'm a massive fan of potatoes in Chinese cooking too, which is something you seem to get in Sichuanese stew-style dishes. They really soak up the complex array of flavours... and well, I'm salivating just thinking about it. I must get some breakfast...
Netty, 23 January 2008: I put it on my list to go in London.
Our Chinese take-away in Machynlleth is bad - a disgrace really. In Aberystwyth there is a Chinese. I would give it two points.
The pepper corns you describe sound very good to me! The Bar Shu in London it shall be.
dmj1962, 31 January 2008: This sounds well worth a visit. What was the veggie selection like?
I suspect Chengdu is cheaper than Shanghai and Beijing, where 50p wouldn't get you very far, these days.
Phil Chambers, 1 February 2008: I beg to differ! I know a superb place you can eat and drink for 50p a head... but I can't remember the name of it. I will find it for you though. Going for the Olympics?
James Smith, 12 February 2008: It's called ChengDu XiaoChi (成都小吃) - there are branches all over the city. No English though I'm afraid...
FIRE!!! Wow. Hottest food I’ve had in London. I probably drank a gallon of water with my meal – which was delicious. Service was impeccable and the dining area is lovely. Seems popular with the Chinatown crowd. It’s a nice restaurant for special occasions, but I’d only take proper foodies and willing palettes.
Tucked on the corner of Frith Street we were tempted in by looking at the plate of food the restaurant's solo diner was eating.
The nice thing about this was that you got very mouthwatering looking photographs of the food in the menu which completely lived up to how the dishes tasted.
You'll be able to have a few sad laughs at the weirder translations - "whacked cucumber", "strange flavoured dish", "numbing flavours" - but the food was yummy and in many cases as hot as the dishes look and the previous reviewer has mentioned.
This is a really great sichuanese restaurant which makes a really refreshing change from the very many average cantonese restaurants which have flourished in london because most english people have no idea about real Chinese food. Anyway, sichuan food is characterised by ingredients such as the sichuanese pepper which are ma (numbing) and la (spicy). The Gongbao Chicken is great, and try a Shuizhu fish if you're in the mood for some real spice. Hopefully Bar Shu and other restaurants like it will start pushing up the standard of chinese food in england and allow it to lose its reputation for being sweet and oily.
Comment 2 comments on this review
AnnieMole, 22 January 2008: Agree - wish I'd have known that about sichuan food being characteristically hot! Very tasty though
Phil Chambers, 23 January 2008: It's a marvel that you can get genuine Sichuanese food in London. I spent some time trekking round Sichuan/Chengdu last summer and this is definitely the real deal.... somewhat more expensive than China admittedly, but still!
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