Bashan Restaurant 1

24 Romilly Street , London, W1D 5AH

020 7287 3266

Visit Bashan Restaurant

4 reviews

38 Chinese Szechuan Soho

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SquareMeal Review of Bashan Restaurant

Pitched as a mid-market sibling to Bar Shu across the way, Ba Shan is less formal but more atmospheric, with stone floors, ornate lanterns, “hard stools” and a ‘shadow room’ decorated with puppets at the back. Chilli heat and punchy, up-front flavours pull the punters, although mellow, delicate options also abound on the huge illustrated menu. Key dishes include General Tso’s chicken, fish-fragrant aubergine¸ smashed cucumber salad and dry-fried green beans, but also look for ‘immortal’ crab in the shell, fragrant anise-braised pork or claypot oxtail with white radish and carrot. Generous portions are best shared, so come en masse. The wine list features several spice-friendly whites – otherwise drink Tsingtao beer or one of the fruity beverages preferred by young Chinese customers. Service receives the odd grumble, but moderate tabs add to the eye-watering thrill of it all.

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8.0

Food & Drink: 8.3

Service: 7.0

Atmosphere: 7.5

Value: 8.0

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

OrientalGourmand bronze reviewer 03 June 2013

I have lived in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. I have been to most of Chinese cities including Taipei, Taiwan with lots of business lunches and dinners over years and I would say that this is the best Chinese restaurant in London, rivalling some of best restaurants in major cities in China. The quality and freshness of food and the authentic taste are delivered here in London very well right from Hunan province which is one of the Eight Schools of Chinese cuisines, in a pleasant Chinese atmosphere. You can tell how authentic and good the food is by the number of locals in the restaurant. In addition to all this, one thing you can't get in China very often is included; good service with smiles! On food and drink and overall, I would give five stars if they improved variety of drinks.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

The Cheese platinum reviewer 10 March 2013

I’ve had my face taken clean off by Szechuan peppercorns before. I enjoy it; it’s an addictive sensation without the fear and dread of despicably hot chilli. So while Bar Shu purveys an outrageously spicy assortment of Szechuan’s finest, neighbouring Ba Shan is just that little bit more mellow and diverse. Think of it as a good way to dip your toe into a deeply unusual cuisine, without said toe growing numb in the searing heat. So while I didn’t detect anywhere near as much fire in our dishes here, that’s not to say they didn’t pack a punch. The flavours were bold, shouty and at times downright peculiar, which made for a pretty thrilling meal. Plus, the menu with pics helped us dodge bullets like unsolicited offal and anything unidentifiable/tubular. Phew. Pounded aubergine was like a Hunanese take on Baba Ganoush; obscenely rich and garlicky, but ruddy gorgeous. A salad of smashed cucumbers was no less powerful, seasoned with minced pork and riddled with intangible nuances. Chairman Mao’s red-braised pork was unctuous and fragrant with anise; my other half loved devouring the layer of creamy fat, but it was no fuss for me to strip it off (even with chopsticks). Gong Bao chicken made it onto our must-try list: chewy nuggets of floured chicken in a sea of dried chilli that was so much more than the sum of its parts. I must have been feeling very la-di-da when I ordered the Chinese wine, despite the waiter’s protestations. It arrived as a brutal shot with echoes of tequila or cachaca; miles away from the delicate sake-esque drink I’d expected (in my ignorance). A Tsing Tao beer was the more fitting option, as unfortunately the curious assortment of bean-based drinks wasn’t available that late on a Saturday night. While Ba Shan was no way near as pricey as Bar Shu, it was by no means cheap. Don’t expect piddly, tapas portions though; each plate was family-sized so you benefit from a group booking. As a cautionary tale, we went as a greedy couple and ended up lugging our leftovers home. This cursed package reeked of weird sesame concoctions, offending everybody on the train home. We were also charged for the takeaway boxes which royally peed me off; by this logic, it’s cheaper to leave waste than finish the food you’ve already paid for. Also, the food looks unappetizing when you haul it out of the fridge the next day and find the odd firm, porky bite lodged in congealed fat. (Spiced oil is integral to many of the dishes, so you need to resign yourself to a calorific blowout). In short, there’s nothing subtle about this food and how it’s prepared, and the results are an acquired taste with an other-worldly. feel But we found the dinner to be weird and wonderful in equal measure and, despite leafing through Fuchsia Dunlop’s beautiful cookbooks, I doubt I could match it at home. You won’t necessarily leave the restaurant feeling like a celebrated customer. We were virtually barked at when we arrived without a reservation, and exchanges with waiters were generally abrupt. But I’d venture that this is less about ‘bad’ service; more that the customer proposition leans towards unflinching efficiency rather than sweetness or warmth. So simply come on mass, bring your adventurous streak and tuck in.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Richard E. platinum reviewer 05 September 2011

Maybe going to a Hunan restaurant, a cuisine renown for the liberal use of both red and green chillies, the night after an evening of sizzling lamb chops at Tayyabs was not the smartest of moves. That said, nothing was going to move me from a dish of Chilli Chicken: a big bowl of red chillies with nuggets of chicken hidden amongst them. A sort of extra-hot lucky dip. Ba Shan seems to divide critics, who either say that it is not hot and spicy enough, not authentic enough or just not very good. Well I cannot judge the authenticity, but it is certainly as good a restaurant as I have ever been to in China. It also, very authentically for many a restaurant in Asia, has a menu with pictures of the dishes. For a China ignoramus like me, this helps. As did going with somebody who has travelled extensively in the region, although he did confess that we had chosen badly, with too many sweet dishes and not enough hot ones. As well as the aforementioned chicken dish, we had a lovely cold starter of spinach with sesame sauce, some delicately spiced scallop with green chillies and fish flavoured aubergine. We went for this latter not only as I like the vegetable (yes, I know it is technically a fruit, but usage is everything), but also because the name of the dish reminded me of the Monty Python voiceover sketch, where the Bishop of Leicester declares that a certain beer that he is advertising is “the mighty lager, with the world's first great taste of fish!”. I confess, I wouldn't have picked the fish flavour out, but it was as nice a vegetable dish as I've had in a Chinese restaurant for a while. I also like things deep fried, so, whilst I would normally eschew any tofu dish, deep fry it and I’ll partake. As I did here, with a dish that was just too sweet for my taste. The room is small, the service friendly and the quality far higher than the majority of the Chinese restaurants in Soho/Chinatown.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Sammy.D bronze reviewer 30 April 2010

From the people who brought you Bar Shu…I've been here loads of times since it opened and they have now changed the menu to make it much more elaborate. I think I preferred the street food formula. Having said that there is a lot to to like in the new menu, which is now even more similar to Bar Shu. I love the prawns in oil. It may not sounds like much but it is delicious — a massive bowl of the crustacea in a fiery liquid. Gong bao chicken, a Bar Shu classic, is also very good and moreish.

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