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Dec 2, 2007 05:53 AM

Bar Shu, SoHo, London

The cold spicy chicken appetizer (kou3 shui3 ji1 -- I'm hoping I remembered the name in English correctly, it's the one with a picture in the top part of the appetizer section) is barely spicy and completely lacks any trace of Sichuan peppercorns that are characteristic of the cuisine (look for a peppery numbing sensation). The vinaigrette that dresses the poached chicken did have an ok chicken flavour, but is otherwise devoid of the complexity required of such a dish.

Dry fried string beans (gan1 bian1 si4 ji4 dou4) show reasonable wok technique, the string beans are blistered properly. The pork could be more finely minced but that's a quibble. Sichuan pickles also make their presence felt, which was nice. A little too enthusiastic with ginger, which should usually work in the background to cut strong flavours rather than make a statement of their own.

While the cooking is not amateurish by any means (cooking and cutting technique are fine but not the most refined), there's still a lot lacking in terms of flavour depth and complexity.

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  1. snazz sichuan is much better - and its not that far from holborn/charing by cab. or 5 minutes walk from euston station. can the ox tripe get much better? the braised beef? do let me know if you get there.

    10 Replies
    1. re: howler

      What's the address for Snazz?

      1. re: JFores

        its on chalfont street.

        whats the matter - your google doesn't work?

        (if i sound waspish its 'cos there used to be a policy on the pre c-net chowhound that it wasn't polite to demand addresses; at the very least a 'please, its too generic, i cant find it on google, whatever' was de rigeur. ah well times change, can't expect the youngsters .. (grin)).

        1. re: howler

          Haha will note in the future. I found it on google.

      2. re: howler

        Sure -- will definitely try it when I get the chance. Many thanks!

        1. re: limster

          I went to Snazz Sichuan a few weeks ago, the portions were huge, and the atmosphere transported me back to China, with the majority of the diners being mainland Chinese. My friend said that it's much more authentic (read that to mean a bit more oily!) than Bar Shu, where the portions are smaller.

          Helen Yuet Ling Pang

          1. re: foodie guide

            Sounds great -- were they more generous with sichuan peppercorns?

            1. re: limster

              The dishes I had fortunately didn't have Sichuan peppercorns (I remember that numbing sensation from Beijing days), but the presence of large red chillis was certainly noticeable! Another place that's apparently good is Angeles in Kilburn. I think I like more subtle flavours, being Cantonese!...

              Helen Yuet Ling Pang

              1. re: foodie guide

                What were the dishes that you had? Love to hear about them. Not all dishes of the cuisine will be loaded with those peppercorns, but it should be very prominent in in the more spicy ones.

                1. re: limster

                  Here's what I had!

                  [My friend, who has eaten here several times, recommended the Spicy Chilli Chicken in Galeshan Sauce (£12.80 - 2 chilli rating). She also chose the Fish-Fragrant Fried Aubergines (£7.20 - 1 chilli rating), while I thought the Vermicelli with Mince Pork (£7.20 - 1 chilli rating) sounded extremely appetising...]

                  Helen Yuet Ling Pang

                  1. re: foodie guide

                    Thanks! The chicken in galeshan sauce should definitely have sichuan peppercorns, so that's a little worrisome. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to checking it out when I get the chance.

      3. I've always found Bar Shu to be rather inconsistent. Dishes that were fantastic on one visit were lacklustre on the next. Snazz Sichuan, on the other hand, has been pretty wonderful on every visit. The cold starters are particularly strong.

        Around Chinatown Red N Hot may be worth a try, though I've heard the service is inconsistent. They also get in my black book for failing to translate the entire menu into English.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ian

          Thanks for the chow tips; will look into Red n Hot. Chinese is a second language, so that shouldn't be too problematic.