Xu 22

30 Rupert Street , London, W1D 6DL

020 3319 8147

Visit Xu

1 reviews

52 Taiwanese Soho

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SquareMeal Review of Xu

SquareMeal London Hot 100 2018Erchen Chang, Shing Tat Chung and Wai Ting Chung made London fall in love with Taiwanese buns when they opened Bao Soho in 2015 and Fitzrovia in 2016; now they look set to repeat that success for the island’s other culinary delights with this impressive newcomer on the edge of Chinatown. It’s a handsome, if narrow site, spread over two floors and styled in the sort of elegantly oriental art deco which, while not exactly ground-breaking, does conceal some original space-saving touches, from drawers to store bags under seats to a couple of tables for solo diners and two tiny semi-private rooms where the tables flip over to make a mah-jong board. But the most original thing about Xu (pronounced ‘Shu’) is the food. ‘Xiao tsai’ small plates and ‘mian shi’ pancakes and dumplings are followed by mains and a couple of ‘classics’ (marinated chicken and char siu ibérico pork). Highlights include numbing beef tendon in which thinly cut beef is set in a jellied terrine pooled with fiery chilli vinaigrette; another terrine of foie gras, this time quivering on a chewy spring onion pancake and cut with Shaoxing wine jelly; a pungent whip of creamy crab meat with fermented shrimp, garlic and more hot chilli; and, best of all, that ibérico pork, meltingly tender in the middle and crisped around the edges. Not all of it is so good – tomato and smoked eel is not a match made in heaven and an open mind is required for textures such as the spongy taro dumpling filled with sausage meat. But this is an exciting introduction to an under-represented cuisine (including an eye-opening selection of Taiwanese teas) and, if you’ve ever queued in the rain for Bao, you’ll be pleased to hear that Xu takes bookings.  

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9.0

Food & Drink: 9.0

Service: 8.0

Atmosphere: 7.0

Value: 8.0

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Gourmand Gunno platinum reviewer 04 September 2017

Located a stone’s throw away from Chinatown and next door to the ever-popular Palomar, the ambitions of Xu (pronounced ‘shu’) are evident. Given that the team behind this venture also pioneered Gymkhana, Bao and Hoppers, expectations were high, but a recent lunchtime visit undoubtedly impressed. While perhaps somewhat lacking in atmosphere, the level of the food here was superlative. The name and the décor (with more than a nod to 1920s Shanghai chic) are evidently suggestive of Chinese food, yet this very much a modern take on the traditional, with a few quirks thrown in too (mah-jong boards/ playing rooms available too, not that we partook). As is the fashion these days, we were encouraged to share, with four starters, one main and some sides deemed appropriate for two people. The dishes are priced reasonably (~£5 for small dishes, £15-20 for mains), but the prices belie the quality on offer. Our quartet with which we began comprised ‘numbing’ beef, tomato and smoked eel, sweetbreads and prawns – none of this obviously Chinese, or certainly close to what one might find just one block away, on Gerrard Street. Nonetheless, all were excellent: the beef didn’t quite numb, but was intensely flavoured; the eel and tomato paired well together in a slightly sweet soy dressing; the sweetbreads enhanced by the clever addition of fermented greens; and the prawns marinated in an intriguingly rich sauce that one just wanted to carry on eating. Service was brisk and efficient and presentation first-class throughout. For the main, we opted for a piece of Iberico pork belly cooked over pickled cucumbers, again a modern take on the traditional. We opted for an onion rice with which to pair this, and for something so seemingly simple, Xu showed its skills by turning this into a sensation. The restaurant has a great wine list, chosen appropriately to pair with the dishes on offer, and our Ehmoser GV from Austria was a great match, reasonably priced too. Two small quibbles would be the slightly sterile atmosphere despite the intimacy of the place (which I would imagine improves in the evenings) and the fact that even if Xu is a Chinese restaurant, the fact that it does not serve coffee seemed quite inexplicable. However, undoubtedly worth a return visit.

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