Published on June 1st, 2015 | by Gavin0
Fu Manchu Dim Sum & Cocktail Bar, Clapham
Summary: Dim sum, cocktails, and music all in one venue. Judging by its popularity already, I envisage it becoming another mainstay of the booming Clapham bar scene
Dim Sum Cocktails
Fu Manchu is a fictional Chinese criminal mastermind created in a 1930s novel and subsequently found movie fame. Oddly this popular figure has been used as the theme for a brand new dim sum and cocktail bar in Clapham North- don’t ask me how, but it works.
Fu Manchu is the latest venture from the owners of the hugely successful Jam Tree bars in Chelsea & Clapham Old Town. Those familiar with the highly un-PC ‘Yellow Peril’ character will be aware of how embarrassingly bad the films were, but the bar has remained largely fairly cheese-free, if you ignore the mural painted on the wall of Mr Manchu in full villain stare mode, that is.
The lines between bar, restaurant and nightclub have become blurred in recent years as venue owners attempt to get a slice of every pie and at first glance, it’s difficult to work out what Fu Manchu actually is. However the large bar area, pumping tunes and limited seating are all indicators that this is a full time bar/club with a part time dim sum element to draw crowds in before the pubs shut.
Cocktails are a shade below £10 each, about on par with Clapham High Road’s popular night venues like 64th & Social, Aquum, and Adventure bar. In fact, Fu Manchu has the “Clapham vibe” about it already; commercial dance soundtrack, affluent twenty to thirty somethings, and a slight air of pretension; not bad for a place that is less than a month old.
The cocktail menu is more hit than miss, with only to the odd drink not working which was largely down to using peculiar ingredients to fit the theme rather than making a good drink (green tea powder being the primary culprit). Of the cocktails we tried, I recommend the tiki inspired rum grog Manchu’s Mind Control (£10) served in a vessel shaped like Fu Manchu’s face, and their Bloody Mary twist with ginger paste and oyster sauce entitled Blood of Fu Manchu (£9).
The way to order food here is by circling dishes on paper and handing to the waiting staff. It’s best to order two or three dishes at a time rather than all at once to make sure your steamed buns are fresh and warm; it only takes about five minutes to arrive despite it being a busy Friday evening, so don’t worry about waiting an age between courses.
It’s been a while since I last ate dim sum and I’ve been craving a steamed bun for months now, so that was the logical place to start (£3.80). I adore the honey barbecue pork variety, but find some a little too sickly, but these are sweetened with just the right amount of honey and are light and fluffy.
My favourite from the steamed menu though is the scallop and spinach dumplings (£5.80) which arrives wrapped in a fetching green skin. Not only does it look good, but tastes fresh and the seafood mix is well seasoned. I say seafood rather than scallops, because I also find a few prawns, which isn’t specified on the menu. A little annoying for my guest with a minor prawn allergy however could have been dangerous for a serious allergy sufferer- so beware.
Next I order the obligatory wanton soup (£4), which is without doubt the best value dish on the menu; not only is the bowl huge, but a couple of chicken and prawn dumplings lurk beneath the murky broth. The taste didn’t quite match up though, I found the broth too salty and lacked flavour compared to the better soups I’ve had.
The selection of dishes we tried from the fried and baked menu more than make up for any disappointment though. I’ve been guilty of believing that once you’ve tried one spring roll you’ve tried them all (though I can’t remember ever ordering them in any high end restaurant), but having tried both the vegetable (£4) and duck (£4.50) rolls, I hold my hands up and say I was wrong. In comparison to any I’ve had, they were far less greasy with a superior pastry, so good we ordered them twice.
My favourite dish of the evening though is the kimchi and mushroom dumplings (£4.20). The steamed dumplings have been fried to give a crispy coating and as a big fan of Korean kimchi seasoning, I couldn’t get enough of them.
Once the lights go low around 10pm, the vibe gets even more Clapham-like, and with a stomach full of dim sum, that’s my cue to make an exit. I may be getting a bit old to be partying into the early hours, but I’ve enjoyed my Friday evening. Fu Manchu have kept things fairly safe, but they can afford to as there’s nothing else quite like it in the area. And judging by its popularity already, I envisage it becoming another mainstay of the booming Clapham bar scene.
Fu Manchu, 15-16 Lendal Terrace, SW4 7UXShare This Post