This place has it all! (Except for vegetarian. They don't reallly have that down.) You can have your Szechuan spicy or spicier, your meat identifiable or non-identifiable, your chills regular or numbing. We always go for the Szechuan king prawns, hot and numbing beef, dry fried chicken, and loads of rice to cool it down. They do some interesting things with bean curd as well. I tend to go here once every few months - good for an impressively large and fancy meal.
Everything is served family-style, so don't expect your food to come in any particular order. If you sit upstairs, it's less cramped and drafty but the servers are less friendly. Downstairs you'll sometimes get the owner, who can give you menu and cooking tips. Definitely book ahead.
I would have liked to give Bar Shu four stars but the prices are quite expensive. That being said, for London they serve above average food and healthy portions. For those that like pictures, the menu is full of them to assist you in ordering.
Some dishes are hotter than others so be sure to ask when ordering. The chicken dish we ordered was mild/medium on the spicy scale but just enough kick.
They are quite busy so bookings are a must!
Gong Bao chicken with peanuts
An authentic version of the famous dish, named after a nineteenth century gorvernor of Sichuan
Braised sea cucumber with spring onion
With minced pork and preserved mustard greens
Stir-fried yard-long beans
With minced pork and Chaozhou preserved mustard greens
A friend and I walked in early on a Thursday evening and were told we could eat but they needed the table back in 1.5 hours which was fine.
The food was good. We had the crab with sizzling veg, green beans with pork and some dumplings. The food was comparable to Chinese I have had elsewhere. The crab was perfectly cooked although quite small. I really enjoyed the searing heat of the Sichuan peppercorns. The green beans were also quite tasty- stir fried with a bit of pork - but this was on par with other places I have been to and could easily be replicated at home.
I wouldn't say it was over the top amazing considering the cost but it's very solid Chinese cooking for London. A meal for two with wine came to £82. However the wine was excellent and the service was good. Much better than what you'd expect from a Chinese restaurant!
Yesterday after a Matinee musical, we decided to go for some Chinese food in or around Chinatown. With so many tourist traps there, we did some Internet search and stumbled across Bar Shu. It's technically not in Chinatown, but just across Shaftesbury st in Soho.
The restaurant itself is quite cleaner and nicer than most Chinese restaurants, and the prices are higher compared to other Chinese restaurants in the area - basically, you pay for quality :-)
I had the prawns with cashew, while the other members of my party had the roster pork leg, chicken with cashew, and chicken in chilli. I'm not an expert on Chinese cuisine, so I can't comment on the authenticity, but what I can say is that everything was divine! Especially the pork leg is recommendable, it tastes absolutely phenomenal, amazingly seasoned.
One note to remember: if it says 'hot' you better believe them - I've never had food as spicy as this!
I was debating between a 4 or a 5 star...decided on a 5 for a few reasons.
1. legit Szechuan food is so hard to find in Europe
2. they carry er guo tou liquor- authentic spirit made from sorghum
3. the space is spacious and cleaner than most chinese restaurants
4. the fish braized in chili oil and ants on a tree were ON POINT
I reached a new level of bliss last night.
Getting my ass kicked by fiery chili peppers and then numbed by innocuous looking peppercorn is probably not most people's idea of fun, but for me, it was just what my sniffling nose and watering eyes were looking for. To give a little context, I've been having serious Chinese food cravings (and ramen, but that might be turning into a torrid affair) since I moved here, and upon hearing that Bar Shu had quality Sichuan food, I quickly booked a table for 7:30 that night.
The restaurant is pretty spacious (with slightly traditional Chinese wooden chairs) and was quite full when we got there. We flipped through the menu, which has pictures to help distinguish between all the various pork and poultry dishes, and ordered:
Northern Sichuan pea jelly- in black bean and chili oil sauce which was a bit too salty
Smacked cucumbers- doesn't sound like a very nice thing to do to cucumbers. Was very scrumptious with its peanut sauce
Soybeans- probably the least exciting thing on the menu, just edamame beans and fungus
Gong bao chicken- this had a sweeter, gravy like sauce that I've not really seen in Gong bao chicken dishes but I really enjoyed it
Fragrant chicken in a pile of chillies- it was good but I only wish the chicken pieces were bigger as it really is digging through a chili minefield only to find a tiny morsel
Sweet potato noodles in hot and sour sauce- loved this!
Dan dan noodles- not sure I like the pork shavings instead of minced pork, but it was a decent dish
Dumplings- pretty good, comes in a serving size of 6
For the 5 of us, the bill came out to 150 which included 2 rounds of beer. Wasn't too bad at all, but a bit more expensive than my typical Sichuan feasts. Make sure you keep a full glass of water next to you before you start eating as you will need it.
Let me start with a story. Last September I was lucky enough to be able to take an independent holiday in China (meaning we weren't with a tour). Everyone told us we would struggle doing it independently if we didn't speak the language and we laughed in their face when we got to Beijing and everything was in English or at least in pinyin (Chinese words in English letters). Then, we took a trip down to Xi'an...
It's not that Xi'an didn't have it's fair share of restaurants with menus with pictures or pinyin (they even had a pizza hut!). It's just that we found ourselves on a budget and ended up in many a restaurant where we were only presented with lists of Chinese dishes and no way of deciphering them.
One night we found ourselves in such a restaurant but were lucky enough to be sat opposite a young Chinese couple who saw what we were pointing at, had a good laugh to themselves and immediately intervened. They basically ordered our dinner for us but what came was the strangest, weirdest but tastiest eating experience of our trip.
You can imagine then, my excitement at stumbling upon Bar Shu one evening in Soho with my partner, only to find the same strange dishes we had on that fateful night in Xi'an. And let me say, that they were as good as I had remembered. In one mouthful I was transported back to that fragrant, humid main street where I had first tasted a Szechuan pepper so integral to the cooking of this region.
I was even lucky enough to get a taste of something we had fallen for whilst in China: the humble Pea Jelly in sauce. Actually when we had it was agar agar we thought, But I recommend it highly, along with the Gong bao chicken and anything with peanuts or cucumber
All in all, I would go back to this restaurant and would highly recommend. Only lost a start because of the price - you could get 4 meals for this price back in Xi'an...
I wanted to try this restaurant when I was in London as I love spicy food. We ordered...
1. Dan dan mien - the flavour of the sauce was good but the noodles were overcooked & the bok choy or whatever veggie that came with it was raw. I had to spit it out.
2. Boiled crescent dumplings in chili-oil sauce - this dish was not good. The meat just tasted foul. Traditional dumplings are supposed to be made with pork. The meat in these dumplings did not taste or look like pork.
3. Red-braised beef with beancurd stick - My brother said the beef reminded him of the way our mom cooked beef stew.
4. Bear's paw beancurd in a spicy sauce - this dish was good. It came with sliced chicken even though this item was listed in the vegetable section of the menu.
5. Boiled sea bass with sizzling chili oil - the flavor was spot on. My complaints of this dish...usually I've seen restaurants serve this with just filets of fish & not the entire fish with the head (our bowl had 3 halves of heads), bones & skin.
Overall the food was good but I felt like it could've been a lot better.
I like this place, just for the food. So I don't think i've ever had Szechuan cooking before and I'd been looking forward to it.
On arrival we were promptly told to wait because we didn't have a reservation, felt like we were being paraded in public because we didn't.
Once we were shown to our table we were given an amazingly menu full of high res images of each dish. The food arrived and it was just superb. I'd braced my self for a big hit of chillies but the heat was a pleasant one, not over powering. Even the pickled veg very hot but nice.
Really want to go back and sample other dishes so if anyone wants to go give me a shout yo!
Misses five stars because of the service.
Recently reopened after a fire, Bar Shu has taken the opportunity to renovate the space and come up with some terrific huge posters showing off their food.
Bar Shu is no ordinary British Chinese restaurant but showcases Sichuanese food in all its raw, tongue-meltingly hot glory. I had Sichuanese food on my recent trip to China and this is the real thing.
I think the pictures indicate strongly the spiciness of the food with all the raw chillies and also from the red hot looking sauces. You will find lots of dishes with unfamiliar names but the staff are on hand to explain and make recommendations.
Prices are expensive but this is unique Chinese food in London
To help put myself through school, I worked as a waiter at a "gourmet" Chinese restaurant in Salt Lake City, near the ski resorts. This was an unusual place in that it was not your typical Chinese restaurant, on many levels. The owners were from Taiwan, they had "imported" the head chef and other employees directly from there, and they all lived in a huge house on the side of a mountain overlooking the valley (and the restaurant). They ran the restaurant like a tight ship, very hardcore, and it was very successful. I can't say it was lots of fun to work there, but I will say it taught me to handle very stressful situations, how to deal with a serously tough boss, and how to earn money by focusing, being professional and working hard.
The reason I mention this here is that for the first time I've encountered a restaurant that approaches the atmosphere and quality of my former employer. The food on the menu here reminds me of the late night dinners we used to have after the restaurant closed, when everyone on staff was fed, family style. At the time I didn't always know what I was eating, but it was sure good! I could sense everyone was missing their homeland, and these special off-menu meals helped them deal with the homesickness.
Bar Shu does a great job of providing its diners with adventurous, delicious Chinese food, and I'm glad I've found it!
This place isn't bad, and I have to say it's one of the best chinese restaurants I've been to in Europe. I will have to disagree with one of the other reviewers though, and say that given the very large population of Chinese people in California (so yes you can find far better Chinese restaurants in the US than in London---maybe not in New York, but try SF and LA---remember that all the white immigrants went through NY and all the asian immigrants went through SF), the Chinese restaurants in Cali are much more impressive. I could name at least 4 Sichuan restaurants off the top of my head that are FAR better than Bar Shu and 1/2 the price in the SF bay area.
I admit that I am a bit of a foodie, and it can take a lot to impress me, particularly with Chinese food. My mother is from Sichuan, and the thing about Sichuan cuisine is that it's not JUST spicy----it's the taste you get with the freshness of your chili sauce, etc. The sauces they had at Bar Shu tasted like they came out of a pre-packaged bottle. No where near the strong flavours you get in authentic Sichuan chili sauces. Particularly, the Mouth-Watering chicken was a HUGE disappointment (way better in California). Things like Ma Po tofu, dan dan noodles, and ants climbing on trees---I could (and do regularly) cook just as well at home (these are EASY family dishes, not restaurant dishes), and I find it painful to dish out 10 pounds for it in a restaurant.
With that said, if I were a working girl again, I would dish out the money to come back here. Chinese food in Europe is often extremely disappointing, and since I will be living here for a while, this is the closest I can get to an authentic Sichuan restaurant.
But I will definitely be hitting the Sichuan restaurants in the bay area for Christmas holiday when I visit.....
edit: in response to one of the other reviewers that said SF has no good Chinese restaurants---you need to leave the city of San Francisco and go out to where the middle class Chinese people live (not all the poor ones stuck in touristy SF Chinatown, which by the way is way less awesome than Oakland Chinatown). The city of SF does not have a large Chinese population (the SF BAY AREA does) so you're not going to find much there----it's still probably predominantly white (with the exception of the Mission, which maybe has a good number of Latin americans). And stop taking chinese restaurant recommendations from white people/bananas!!! No wonder you haven't found anything good!
I miss out the last 2 stars on this review because it's so damn pricy. pay day only!(I went after i got paid) and a minor problem with one dish. I'm a BIG fan of spicy chinese food, especially sichuan (I have yet to try hunan which my dad tells me is SUPER-hot, if anyone knows a good hunan place in London, please let me know :))
Bar Shu is definitely one of the better sichuan places I've been to and also, I want to compliment them on the standards not dropping. I've only been twice but visits were spaced apart by a year or so. Anyways, onto the actual review, I booked for 4 at 7pm for Thursdays and was told quite abruptly that we could only stay for one and half hours. No problem, it's london, it's a famous chinese place and they want a quick turnover. Standard for Chinese places in chinatown
My friends and I are pretty assertive people so no sooner as we sat down, our orders were quickly taken, what we ordered:
cloud ear fungus with coriander- (definitely a dish for the brave if you're not chinese) which was incredibly moreish as an appetiser, spicy and sour in the right doses and whereas it may look like a small dish for £7.90, THEY PACK ALOT INTO THE PLATE. :D
Ants climbing tree: glass noodle dish which came out less spicier than i expected but it was very well flavoured.
Sliced Pork with Silk Gourd: Our vegetable dish, instead of seasonal chinese veg, this was a welcome dish because it's not spicy at all, and it definitely cools the mouth down after VERY spicy dishes. It probably tastes better because it's so cooling.
Water boiled Pork: WARNING eat with rice, it's numbingly spicy! That's the thing with sichuan, it numbs your tongue with chilli until you cry. If you're crying, it's a sign of a good sichuan dish.
Fragrant chicken in pile of chillis: Or what it actually is, Bits of chicken bone/skin/fat in chillies, this was the fatal achilles heel of the meal, the dish was not worth the £18 they charge, the chicken was inedible, it was just bits of bone and chicken skin- tiny tiny bits that we had to treasure hunt in the pile of chillis. AVOID AVOID AVOID. opt for the gongbao chicken instead!
Bears Paw beancurd in spicy sauce: Very nice, again quite spicy but i wish they used thicker slices of beancurd and spring onions on top would have totally MADE the dish.
if you hear something wailing, that would be your wallet crying. Bill inc. service charge came up to £97. Sobsobsob
Anyways, I read alot of reviews here complaining about the service but actually service was really good, except that might have been because we were chinese and we ordered in cantonese. (The waiters do both cantonese and mandarin) and the people who served up were really nice and i think under legal advice, they had to warn people about how spicy the dishes are. Our waiter warned us, but it's okay, that bit of malaysian chinese heritage in me can totally take the spice!
I'm apprehensive about when i'll be back. it's too expensive to be a regular haunt, but I have regular cravings of sichuan (Biiig problem there!) but I've heard Laodifang does similar dishes for a bargain price so that is my next stop.
I will DEFINITELY come back to this place. I ordered the dry-braised ox tendons and it was soooo good! I love all the spice in this restaurant and th service was great.
I love that they have pictures for every single dish they make because I would've never ordered the ox tendons had I not seen a picture of them.
I will come back and try whatever it was the table next to me got. Since their menus have pictures, I can just look for it and point. It's also great that this restaurant is located in Soho because that makes it easy for me to go for a night out on the town after dinner.
I'm from San Francisco, so I consider myself a Chinese food snob. I can say that this place is in my top 5 of Chinese places.
After eating at Bar Shu for the first time back in....oh let's say Oct '08....I've been back 5 times within the next 2 months. It's a GEM in London, with strong flavors and drool-worthy dishes (is it still being refurbished or is it open again??)
A few dishes that make the top of my list are: ma po tofu, dan dan noodles, green beans with chilli, "ants crawling up tree", water cooked pork, and ALL the cold starters.
Come here for the tasty dishes and not the humble, hole in the wall atmosphere. Fancy pants decor and slightly obnoxious pricing make me skeptical about any Chinese restaurant, but hey...I'm one of those Asian-Americans who have been gastronomically spoiled by being born and bred in California!
Excellent spicy Sichuan food! We had the cloud ear mushrooms appetizer - very unusual and delicious. The other dishes were also very spicy and yummy. I would come back to this restaurant. They serve dishes that you do not find in other Chinese restaurants in London (or in other European cities).
I am now on a mission to find unusually good Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, which I am living right now and which has a large Chinese population. Alas, after 2 years of living in SF, I am sad to say that I have not yet found a truly amazingly good Chinese restaurant -- nothing like this Bar Shu.
So if anyone has a recommendation, please let me know. I want a restaurant that does not serve the same-old, same-old.
I was really pleased with the authenticity and delightful Sichuan flavors in which Bar Shu provided when we rolled in last night around midnight. The decor inside the establishment was very soothing and only added to the successful experience in which we were provided.
For the food we ordered three basic yet essential dishes which all were quite well prepared. Spare Ribs, Pork Dumplings, and Peanut Satay Chicken.
With obvious large number of Chinese restaurants located within Chinatown in Soho, I really appreciated the authentic food and atmosphere of Bar Shu.
Despite being a vegetarian, I generally consider myself an adventurous and accepting sort of eater who never shies away from new cuisines or copious amount of chilies. But apparently, traditional Sichuan cuisine and vegetarianism is a little like oil and water. At least, that's how I felt perusing the menu at the acclaimed Sichuanese restaurant, Bar Shu in London's Soho. It was one of those menus where even if you didn't stray beyond the quarantined 'vegetable' section, failing to read fine print, meant you might find minced pork in your fried green beans.
From what I could tell, I only had two options, since there were only two veggie dishes demarcated with a chili for "hot." (I need spice). And much to my dismay, when queried, our waitress, who was irritated that I'd even had the gall to ask her a question instead of just placing my order, curtly assured me that Bar Shu's most popular vegetarian dish is the "pock marked Old Woman's beancurd" - named for the "smallpox scarred restaurateur" who invented the dish.
Oy. Call me prejudiced, but ordering a meal that references a highly contagious disease was the opposite of appetizing, and the accompanying photograph of the soft beancurd, pocked and jiggling in a thick red sauce, did absolutely nothing to make it any more so. I knew if I went ahead and ordered "diseased tofu," no matter how tasty it was, I'd spend most of my time imaging this wrinkly old Chinese lady's face and it's unfortunate bout with smallpox - which had so wrongly become the namesake for her dish.
My sister struggled through her order for a slightly different reason: the food coming out the kitchen, which we had spied while waiting for our table, looked amazing, however, the pictures of the food on the menu, did not. We're aware that this is fairly typical Asian phenomenon, but still... couple the bad photos with the endless off-putting descriptions (cloud ear fungus, strange sauce, slithery mouth feel), and we were both at a bit of a loss.
Help! Someone well-versed in Sichuan! Guide us! Tell us what to do!
But our abrupt waitress had little interest in the task, so we ended up with a handful of hit-and-miss dishes (my "stir-fried vegetables" was nothing more than a pile of stalky greens - before placing my order, when I asked if they could throw in some tofu for good measure, the waitress delivered her matter-of-fact "no" in a way that I understood right away meant "and that goes for everything else you might have been wondering if we can do too").
On the upside, the food was fresh and of high-quality, and our appetizer of garlicky cucumbers was *unbelievably* delicious; we used the drippings from this dish to jazz up everything that followed.
By all accounts, this was a rather authentic Chinese dining experience, which probably would have been better if we'd brought one of our Chinese friends with us... simply to point us to what we *should* order. Though, authentic or not, the rushed, impersonal, "I don't give a damn" service was really off-putting, and I really would prefer not to be talking about smallpox when I'm dining. And I hate to admit, but I missed the customary token fortune cookie.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find authentic Sichuan in London's China town (mala!) I haven't had that steady sweat and happily numb tongue since I was in China :)
We had the shredded chicken (bang bang jiding), a cold sesame flavored appetizer (not that hot) along with the stir fry potato strings, which has this amazing crispiness along with the spice. Mapo tofu is a must-have (with rice). We had the whole shrimps as well -- less dry than what I've had before but still quite good. Also the spicy noodles (tantanmien), good and smoky spice.
Pretty good selection on their menu (I'd go back for the soup pots and kang pao chicken) and non-Chinese friendly with photos for most dishes! Do look out for their spice ratings (number of peppers) as the hot stuff is no joke.
FYI for those familiar with South Beauty in China, Bar Shu's mask logo resembles the logo for the Chinese high end Sichuan chain South Beauty (it is one of the standard business trip meal in Shanghai), but I asked and they're not related.
Suh-picy! Glad I came though. The waiter was patient with me when I was choosing between the spicy sweet potato noodle and the dan dan noodles. Word to the wise: don't be scared off if offal is in the description - they're happy to customize :)
Anyway, tried the bean curd with spring onion oil (foo jook), sweet potato noodle and hot and sour soup. Portions are small but adequate.
However, getting the check is a headache...I'm still waiting for mine...
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...
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.
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!) :)
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.
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.
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.
Serious Szechuan, but lots of pork. Make sure you ask for dishes *without* pork/meat if you're vegetarian. Once that's done, it's fantastic -- szechuan peppercorns galore! If you're craving that weird mouth-tingly feeling, come here.
Very friendly staff, warm and relaxing atmosphere and most importantly delicious food. The sweet potato noodles are without a doubt a must try and be advised that the food is really spicy, so if you aren't used to it you better share that piece of information with the waiter.
One of the most delicious meals I have had in London. And definitely the best Chinese food I've ever eaten anywhere. This place is not for the non-adventurous eater. Pretty much every body part and organ of every animal on earth is available on the menu, and it's all very spicy, in keeping with the Sichuan tradition. But boy is it tasty. Plus, I got some sort of sick enjoyment out of surprising our waiter, who was highly impressed that four white kids devoured the "spiciest dish on the menu." An absolute gem, and my new go-to place for Chinese food in London.
This is Szechuan cuisine so it is almost all very spicy; I had to take a break and let my mouth recover in the middle of dinner. Don't expect your Anglicized Chinese dishes here either.
I ate at this restaurant about a year ago. As a native of Sichuan, I must say that Bar Shu has the best and most authentic Sichuan food I have ever had outside of China. The dishes there taste practically the same as the ones I had at home. I live in NYC where there are many Chinese restaurants and many good ones, and I can tell you that Bar Shu is that much better. I wish they had a branch in NYC.
The decoration is also very nice, nicer than any Chinese restaurant I've ever been to in the US.
If you want a taste of real Sichuan food, which can be very spicy and isn't for everyone, Bar Shu is the place. It is a little pricey though, but that's true for most good restaurants.
This is totally legitimate Sichuan food. The gong bao prawns are absloutely amazing! I have the cookbook from this place and everything I have made out if it has been a knockout! Highly recommended if you like spicy, non-Westernized food.
As a Chinese born now settled in London, this is by far my favourite Chinese restaurant in town.
Though leaning towards the spicier end of the spectrum, this restaurant manages the capture the subtler, delicate flavours in Sichuan cuisine, without relying on heavy handed use of grease and burnt dried chilli in other lesser Sichuan restaurants.
My favourite is the Sea bass poached with chilli on a bed of noodles (the precise name escapes me) and the Mouth Watering Chicken. Dan Dan Mien is a must too.
Bar Shu is one of the more authentic Chinese restaurants in London and you may be disappointed at the lack of more familiar dishes (don't ask for a fortune cookie; they're not even Chinese!). Yes there are bones, the skin is kept on the fish and there are few decent vegetarian dishes, but that's why there is a strong Chinese clientele. Be bold and you will be rewarded with an authentic taste of China that is rarely executed so well in this country.
4 stars because I have yet to compare it to Hunan in Pimlico and with ones in Manchester, plus I don't want it to be even harder to get a reservation.
I've given this place two stars b/c the food is decent but the service is horrendous. And this place is pricey too for szechuan food. If you're charging these prices, you have to have better service, otherwise your customers will not return unless the food is STELLAR. The food is decent but not STELLAR.
Good choice for Chinese in Soho. We came in without a reservation on a Wednesday night and they sat us promptly in a private basement room on the proviso that we leave in 1.5 hours. They were flexible with providing vegetarian versions of vegetable dishes that would normally have meat stock and I found the Gong Bao chicken to have the right level of spiciness. Sometimes the service was missing for awhile but given their flexibility, speed and accuracy I didn't mind. You might like the fact that the menus have photos of all dishes if you want to see what you're getting ahead of time.
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.
Had such high expectations for this place as it came recommended by several people I spoke with, as well as my trusty Lonely Planet. I won't even comment on the prices, as everything in London is extravagantly priced. As I understand, this is quite the popular spot for Londoners, and when I walked in, there definitely were a lot of Asian faces, so I figured it was legit. I got the Ants Clmbing Up a Tree and Water Spinach and was happier with the veg than with my main dish. The noodles weren't minutely spicy but were somehow overly salty, which was a huge surprise, as everything else I had in London was under-salted to my taste. Being a Sichuan establishment, I expected super spicy, mouth-numbing flavor. Maybe I ordered the wrong things, but I doubt I'll return to try anything else.
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.
Overpriced, greasy, uninspired. Stay away. Luckily, plenty of other Chinese restaurant options nearby
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).
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