I talked about traditional dim sum brunch at Royal China, so I now feel like I’ve fulfilled my ‘authentic Asian’ obligations and can go back to talking about my real love-cocktails and dim sum. This can be an anytime pursuit (like how you can have high tea at 6pm), but I’d personally recommend it as an evening thing, just because RULEZ you know? But of course, as a part of my self-sacrificing nature, I did try some cocktails at our Fu Manchu unlimited dim sum lunch. Yes you heard right-UNLIMITED! One of the bunch’s favorite words! Sadly this wasn’t followed by the word Prosecco, but I suppose, you win some, you lose some…
Fu Manchu is situated in the Clapham North arches (I know, there are so many of these arches across London, I can’t keep up either) and is a curious mix of restaurant, bar and night club. Come during the day and you’ll see it with a plethora of tables set up for eating and drinking and I suppose they just move the ones in the middle of the room in the evening. With a lot exposed brick work and piping detail, this has your typical ’21st century authentic design’ stamped all over it. Our table at the very back of the restaurant is underneath a skylight-perfect for a sunny spring morning. The service was a little slow, and we were initially concerned as we only had 1 1/2 hours to stuff ourselves silly. I mean these are the people who complained that 25 dishes between 5 was a bit measly last time, so there were high expectations for the amount we procure this time.
Having devised a game plan earlier this week for maximised eating, we quickly ordered everything available on the unlimited dim sum plan. And 3 portions of char siu buns, puffs and prawn toast. Because, obviously we couldn’t share (especially not prawn toast-Grant can be very specific about that, particularly when it comes to CôBa!). I also got my first sacrificial cocktail, and we ordered a round of tea. I really liked this cocktail as it hit the right note between sweet and a teensy tiny bit bitter and cherry (maraschino cherries in drinks makes everything better)!
Everything, in our mind took an age to arrive, but we are quite good at entertaining ourselves so it was ok. Basically, we demanded a fork from our waiter and took selfies with it-because fork of shaming is important, right? Suddenly our waiter appeared with a mountain of steamer baskets and we were in trouble/ready to dig in.
The dim sum was… good. Much better than Ping Pong but falling short of Royal China’s deliciousness, but we were expecting that so it wasn’t a huge disappointment for us. We devoured the dim sum like a bunch of Oliver Twists and yes, there were winners and losers. There were the char sui buns that I wasn’t a massive fan of (I thought the bready bit was too heavy but the others loved it), but we ordered 2 more portions so those were the obvious winners. We loved the beef dumplings as well as the scallop ones (mmm… they were succulent and delicious); the siu mai weren’t bad either and as a testament of them being freshly made, some came with fish roe on top and others didn’t. Losers from the steamer round went to the lo mai gai (I was quite sad about this as this was a childhood favourite-unfortunately it was just underseasoned without picking up any of the delicate fragrance from the lotus leaf wrapper) and the bean curd wrapped thing (Linzi sneered at it, it was that unimpressive).
P.S. There weren’t courses of dim sum of course, I’m just working down our massive bill of what we ordered! Because with 46 dishes ordered (and WordPress deleting my post while I was on holiday), one needs a teeny weeny bit of a reminder what happened in this blissfully gluttonous 90 minutes.
Actually, funnily enough, the majority of the fried and baked stuff did take a while to come, so we ordered more dumplings while we waited. And it was worth the wait. The calamari warranted two extra helpings as did the very moreish (and slightly spicy) fried kimchi dumplings. I rather liked the turnip cake (it was very homey) and both the char sui and lamb puffs were a hit. Linzi and I weren’t fans of the pumpkin puff but we had to get more for Grant to try (thank god it was unlimited!). At this point I also had my second selfless cocktail. It was a ‘cherry blossom’ theme one and had the unfortunate look of Pepto-Bismo (do we get this stuff in the UK?): queue a discussion with Bella about childhood antibiotics preferences (for the record, I liked the yellow banana one)! The cocktail didn’t taste bad per say, but I was fully put off by its aspirations to look like skele-gro.
The waitress returned after all this to ask if we wanted a third round… I had written extras that we all thought were fantastic down, but after 46 plates of dim sum, even the boozy bunch had to admit defeat on a sunny afternoon and finish our tea. We were given some fortune cookies (some promised a discount during the week) and were pleasantly surprised that tea was included with our unlimited plan.
Would I go back to Fu Manchu? It’s a bit far if you don’t live in South London but I thought that for 20 quid it was fantastic value (our food worked out to be just under £2.20 per portion!) and tasty enough. It didn’t quite hit the highs of a great dim sum place, but I never expected it to and this offers a solid dimsum/cocktail combo if you ever fancy packing your passport and having a jaunt in South London. Their chopsticks are also pretty easy to use, and we only had 1 faux pas during our scrum for food (and we’ll forgive Bella as she was sick).
Price: £19.50 a head for unlimited dim sum on sundays including tea (unless this was a billing mistake as it wasn’t mentioned anywhere). Cocktails are about £9 each.
15-16 Lendal Terrace