It has been a pretty busy couple of weeks worth of restaurant reviews, tastings and menu launch parties, so much so in fact that I am only just getting around to publishing this review of the Shikumen Shepherd’s bush launch party from back in February. Since then I also had a wonderful Dim Sum brunch there, which I took Hana too. Hopefully that will be up shortly but in the meantime here is my review of the launch party.
Even though I have lived in London for almost five years, I haven’t yet managed to go out and properly celebrate Chinese New Year. So this year I was more than happy to accept an invitation to the Shikumen Shepherd’s Bush launch party which doubled up as a Chinese New Year celebration. I was doubly happy to attend the launch party of Shikumen’s second London venue as I have been meaning to try their Ealing restaurant for some time, and I’ll say I was more than happy to be sampling their wonderfully, beautifully crafted food.
Shikumen’s Shepherd’s Bush venu is located within the Dorsett Hotel, a recent addition to Shepherd’s Bush green. Situated in the classic old cinema building, the Dorsett Hotel has been fashioned to feel authentically ‘Chinese’ but with inspiration taken from classic British hotels, think the Dorchester and ilk, as well. Both the hotel and restaurant are run by Chinese companies – who are expanding into new markets in the UK, so the feel, decor and food give a truly authentic Chinese experience, in feel at least.
The Shikumen launch party took place in the restaurant space, which certainly makes you feel as though you have been transported to China. The evening consisted of a buffet style meal, served with a variety of drinks, which showcased several of their signature and highlight dishes. The food was split through the evening with different course from nibbles on arrival to a variety of starters, main courses and desserts which were gradually served through the evening. I often feel a buffet style arrangement, such as this, is a great way to showcase what a restaurant will be like and let the food speak for itself. It was similar to my experience in February at the Ealing Park Tavern (see my review here). Where we were free to mingle whilst experiencing the venue.
I tried several different dishes through the evening, so let’s start with the nibbles and generally, beautiful, presentation of the food.
I have always been fascinated by knife craft and the ability to craft a simple vegetable into either a flower or an animal or other enticing shape. You can see the crafted birds, which looked to be cut from carrot – I didn’t get chance to find out if they were or not, but the craftsmanship in presentation, as seen in the picture above, was more than reflected by the overall quality of the food itself.
Starters. There were several different dishes to sample and I dove in with my usual gusto when presented with such an cacophony of dishes.
One of my few criticisms of Shikumen was that there was not much information on the individual dishes we were sampling through the evening. They were all so beautifully crafted, composed and flavoured and I would love to share the names of each dish with you.
This dish was a chicken and vegetable dish with a light oriental sauce. It was served as a small taster portion, of which I had to have a couple of portions. Gorgeous.
Next I sampled some of the chicken bits served with cucumber and red onion. I love red onion, it has to be one of my favourite things and it is such an underused vegetable. I tried these with the satay sauce which went perfectly with them, though a chilli sauce was also on offer.
Next I tried the fried rice dish, as with the rest of the dishes well put together and flavoured. The pictures don’t quite do this dish justice as there were more vegetables in than it might look like.
You can see more of the different dishes which were on offer on the sample plate below. It was really nice to have a lot of crudites on offer, carrots, dried fruit and some others. Often at these events the food can be a little too heady and you feel like you’ve missed out on your five-a-day. But at Shikumen there was more than enough on offer.
My favourite dish of the evening, and yes I did have to go back a few times, was the peking duck wraps. Through the evening duck after duck and mountains of pancakes were brought out and carved up and turned into fresh pancake rolls.
Perhaps one of the most fun parts of the evening was when the dragon dancers came through the restaurant, not something you see everyday but a lot of fun! Unfortunately due the the large crowd I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the dragon, but it was quite colourful and fun.
As we left we were given a gift bag with a box of speciality tea, a lovely parting gift and nice way to end the evening.
Shikumen is open for brunch, lunch and dinner from 12pm to 11pm Monday to Saturday and 11.30am to 11pm on Sunday. A set menu for 2 people begins at £24.50 per person.
Shikumen Shepherd’s Bush
58 Shepherd’s Bush Green