Barshu Restaurant 22

28 Frith Street , London, W1D 5LF

020 7287 88 22

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SquareMeal Review of Barshu Restaurant

Strictly a domain for chilli-heads, this smart, light-filled Chinese delivers a riotous flavour ride, Szechuan-style. Complaints of “lucky dip” portion sizes have been addressed with the introduction of illustrated menus, which also help to identify the hottest propositions. Dry-wok options (stir-fried frog’s legs, pig’s offal and duck tongues) all arrive emblazoned with dried chilli, as do fleshy strips of boiled sea bass and appetisers such as sliced pork belly, nestled in a blood-red sauce. Moments of relief come in the shape of soothing soups, and stews, and you’ll probably be glad to see mango sorbet and coconut ice cream offered for dessert. The restaurant makes no bones about the fact that it uses MSG and aims to turn your table within two hours – two drawbacks that will be familiar to anyone who frequents neighbouring Chinatown. High prices are out of sync with the neighbourhood, but you’re paying for an “authentic”, thoroughly thrilling taste of central China.


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6.1

Food & Drink: 7.1

Service: 5.5

Atmosphere: 6.2

Value: 4.6

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

Simon W. 16 July 2017

BARSHU is a gem!! The quality of the food and the wonderful friendly service - make this an absolute "go to" restaurant if you like Spicy Sichuan cuisine.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Richard P. 14 April 2016

The food here is a real lucky dip, not just the taste but the portion sizes. Both the starters and mains can range from small enough to feed a gnat to large enough to end famine in Africa. Everything you order also runs the chili gauntlet. If you order anything marked "hot" from the dry wok section expect to have a gross of dried, mainly whole, red chilies delivered to your table, with a smattering of the other ingredients. But all said and done the food was really tasty, it was one of the more authentic Chinese places I've eaten in and we had a window seat on a Saturday night. I'd go back.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

GH platinum reviewer 07 November 2013

Authentic good food, however the service is appalling. The waitresses could not be any grumpier. Restaurant was buzzy but cramped. Ladies, do not be fooled by the prices and think that this is a dressy place.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

OrientalGourmand bronze reviewer 02 June 2013

Sichuan (proper Mandarin Chinese term for Szechuan) food is supposed to be hot and spicy. In London, spicy food tends to be milder than what it originally is in home country. But in this restaurant food is delivered to your table with full real taste (not only spicy but with all those actual flavours which make it all the while to go through the pain in your mouth!). Most of employees are experienced and trained well so you wouldn't be in a trouble usually. Only one thing would be the price, but for the quality and authenticity, I would accept it.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Gourmand Gunno platinum reviewer 02 April 2013

Londoners often face a challenge when it comes to finding good Chinese restaurants: on the one hand, there is the MSG-heavy Cantonese food that predominates much of Chinatown, and on the other, there is the likes of Hakkasan and its ilk, as much fashion destination as food experience, with only the briefest of nods to China as opposed to ‘pan-Asia.’ At least at Bar Shu, tucked at the edge of Soho, where Frith Street meets Romilly Street, the experience is somewhat more authentic. The style of food here is Sezchuan, namely from the eponymous region of southern China, where there is a strong emphasis on chilli and pepper. The menu is wonderfully varied and makes no bones about what is on offer. A “mouth-numbing” beef appetiser (their words, printed in the menu), leaves little to the imagination, while for the mains, adventurous diners can choose from dishes including tripe (edible offal), chicken gizzards (the animal’s digestive organs) and pig’s intestines. Actually, I went for the latter as my main, prepared in a dry wok with extensive chillies and other spices. It tasted notably porcine and indeed elegantly spiced (I was not reaching for my drink every other second, despite a ‘two-chilli’ rating on the menu). All our dishes were a success and Bar Shu also excelled with its vegetable sides, of which we enjoyed the fungus ear mushroom (again, not as bad as it sounds) and the lotus root. Two things, however, let Bar Shu down. First, the service, while not actually bad, was distinctly lacking in warmth, despite (or maybe because) the restaurant was only half full. Second, the food while good, does not come cheap. If not Hakkasan, then one can probably get better value than the c£90 the two of us spent on our outing, comprising just two beers each, two starters, two mains and two sides (along with rice and service; but still…)

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

The Cheese platinum reviewer 01 November 2012

It’s hard to capture just how addictive Sichuan food can be. There comes a point when your lips are a-glow with peppery heat, and your mouth feels like it’s darting across your face; resembling the subject of a cubist portrait when Picasso was at his most barmy. Once the tingle subsides and you’re confident your chops haven’t burned clean through, all that’s left is a tremendous sense of wellbeing and the question: what the devil was that, and can I have some more? This is why I find myself returning to Bar Shu again and again. People pooh-pooh service as abrupt, surly and ruthless and – having been four times now – I can confirm all these things. But I’m comfortable in the knowledge that everyone is treated with equal disdain; that the cool reception is not solely reserved for me; and that there's no restaurant quite like it in London. Bar Shu's a place where the nose-to-tail hardcore can fill their boots as there's all manner of glandular delight on the menu. At the last visit, we spied a plate writhing with eels and searingly-hot oil being marched to a table, followed by trails of jellyfish (complete with unnerving wibble). I'm relieved to say that not every dish is a bushtucker trial though. I’ve always been impressed by the veritable extravaganza of dolled-up veg on offer, so we gave some a whirl last week. Take ‘phoenix tail’ greens in the so-called ‘strange-tasting’ sauce that's normally reserved for bang bang chicken. Or the melting loveliness of fish-fragrant aubergine laced with spiced caramel and sesame oil. We ate green beans with skins wrinkled by a fierce dry heat, seasoned with tangy ground pork. Smacked cucumbers – a staple across South East Asia – tempered their cool, chilled flesh and fresh herbs with uppity bites of chilli. And DanDan noodles were a simple dish done exceedingly well, sitting just the right side of al dente. Our token meat-based dish – Dong Bao chicken – was delicious, and a safe option with echoes of a darned good Cantonese-style sweet and sour. But for me it was all about the authentic Sichuan bean curd dish: bless that pock-marked old woman from whom this tofu gets its name. Captivating in its moreish weirdness, we polished off the whole sizeable dish between two. But lordy, it'll cost you. On the plus-side, there’s no need to fork out for wine because it’s not a cuisine that benefits from it. We drank green tea, and a procession of cooling cocktails made from soothing aloe and salted plum. I tend to scarcely notice the surroundings in Bar Shu. I'm too sucked in by the heady and slightly psychedelic culinary experience, way too busy playing with my food. But there are wood carvings, lively chatter, and a laid-back dress code (plus it's usually quite cool; a blessing, given the chilli heat). I look forward to nipping across the road to the sister restaurant Ba Shan, which is even more relaxed and (mercifully) cheaper. I wonder what delights await there?

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 0.0

Na W. 10 January 2012

Very expensive and the portion is very small, the vegetable of typical water beef are all Chinese leaf that should be mixed of vegatables.Even the boxes to be charged by 50p each for the left over food, no complimentary fruits after the meal and only an overpriced bill at the end. Do not go there and you will be disappointed.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 0.0

Peter m. 11 December 2011

coldish chinese food and particularly cold rice says that the food is not prepared properly: waiting staff are somewhat o-t-l. all shop front rather than real food… nice enviroment sadly without food relevance… it was like going to a performance of the red lantern without drinks , food and a plot. …kinda like a set after all the actors have left for the holidays! or to get some food,,,,,,,,,

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 3.0

Chris D. 14 July 2011

The first place I have eaten that actually serves real Szechuan food! if you like authentic Chinese food, try here, if you prefer the ‘sweet and sour’ Cantonese type place you find in any high street, go elsewhere Service was not great, but the food made up for it!

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 0.0

ian s. 22 February 2011

I wish I had read some of these reviews before visiting Bar Shu. We went on a Friday evening – table was booked for 1930 (with strict instruction we had to be out of the door by 2100) – probably to accommodate for the theatre crowd. As some of the previous posters mentioned the service is not so hot. Upon arriving we waited in a dark corner for 30 minutes before the menu was given to us. No amount of frantic waving could stop the waiters in their set routine. Our order comprised of two starters (one beef in “one chilli” rated sauce – now known as magma) and one chicken wrap stuffed with vegetables (actually quite nice). Two mains – king prawns with cashew nuts, and “fragrant beef” Again the prawns were pretty good. Note that what you think is a water chestnut is actually a lump of garlic. However the fragrant beef dish seemed to have been cooked in the same generic “magma” sauce we experienced for startes (and for a few hours). Two drinks – one small bottle of beer and a non alcoholic green tea cocktail. Total price = £75 … i would have questioned the bill except - it was (as someone else just noted) – just a lot of squiggles with increasingly large numbers on the paper - we were getting so close to our 9pm time limit the waiters were finally hovering around! In short. - The food can be hot and tasty, if you are prepared to wait. - Be sure that service is NOT included as they still give you the card swipe with “add tip?” – I fell for that one. - Note that their menu on the webpage doesnt seem to have prices. - There is a “scoops” icecream restaurant nearby if you find the pain lingering. There are so many other choices in and around the area. I won't be going back.

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Emerald Room
Capacity: 10
Ruby Room
Capacity: 12
Jade Room
Capacity: 14
Pearl Room
Capacity: 50
Diamond Room (Jade & Ruby Combined)
Capacity: 26