Our first experience of Taiwanese cuisine was last year at Bao Fitzrovia and we loved it (more me than Shiima though). We went to Bao Fitz again earlier this year and we enjoyed it even more. I appreciate that Bao is unique, but the enjoyment of the food sent me on a quest to try more Taiwanese restaurants … and this is where Xu comes in…
Xu is a modern Taiwanese restaurant in Chinatown. The menu was appetizing, but after further research I found out Xu is from the same people that created Bao. I was damn excited! Lol. Getting a reservation wasn’t the easiest – merging the wife and I’s schedule with the restaurants availability – but we finally booked in for last Friday evening.
If you were anywhere near the United Kingdom you’d have been aware of the hysteria caused by the “Beast from the East” snowstorm, but Shiima and I braved (we’re so brave! lol) it to Rupert Street, which is Soho and on the edge of Chinatown. Xu is next door to The Palomar, which is a restaurant I adore, but I don’t remember seeing Xu when I dined alone at The Palomar last year. There was a bit of a snafu with our reservation (they couldn’t find it, although I had confirmed the day before) but it was resolved and we were led our booth upstairs.
The decor in Xu finely skirts contemporary elegance and a slightly relaxed tone. It is snug, with a beautiful bar prominently located in the room, but the space is excellently maximised both upstairs and on the ground level. There’s also soft Taiwanese (I think lol) background music, which I quite enjoyed.
What we ordered
As I mentioned, the menu is appetizing and it took me a while to decide what to order because there was a lot of choice. Shiima, on the other hand, knew what she wanted quite quickly. For starters we ordered Chicken Wings, Pan Fried Aged Pork Xian Bing, Montgomery Cheese & Spring Onion Xian Bing, and Sweet Potato with Miso Taro Dumplings. For mains, Shiima ordered Chou Pa Chicken with Steamed Rice and I ordered Char Shui Iberico Pork and Grilled Seabass. Yes, I got two mains!
Review of the food
The Chicken Wings were delicious. The sanbei glaze was really good and I enjoyed the caviar that was delicately set of the chicken. Shiima didn’t like the caviar, but she doesn’t like fish so that’s expected. She really enjoyed the wings though after dusting off the caviar.
Both Xian Bings were amazing. Both the Pan Fried Aged Pork filling and the pastry were delicious. The Xian Bing is filled with so much sauce though that it burst all over me once I had a bite. The Montgomery cheese & spring onion is a very modern dish with British influence. It tasted very much like one of the very best pan-fried cheese toasties or cheese puff pastry.
The Sweet Potato with Miso Taro Dumpling was just as delicious. The dumplings were steamed and then fried to give it a succulent yet crisp texture.
Shiima Shou Pa Chicken was excellent, and the crispy chicken skin that’s sprinkled over the dish gives the dish an added jolt of flavour. The chicken was very well cooked and the sauce was perfectly balanced with salt and spice, which went very well mixed with her steamed rice. It’s a fairly sizeable portion as well.
My Char Shui Iberico Pork was exactly what I’d hoped for. Cooked to perfection with the right amount of BBQ glaze, which wasn’t too sweet. It was served on a bed of braised cucumber that I didn’t enjoy, but I left the cucumber and enjoyed the delicious BBQ pork. The grilled seabass was my least favourite dish, but it was still quite good and it was really spicy. I think the problem for me was that the marinade didn’t seep into the fish, so all the extra flavour and heat was on the outside.
Absolutely. We’d seen the Ma Lai cake – only dessert they offer – on a neighbouring table and it looked really good so we ordered it. It’s in a steamer pot and looked a fairly considerable portion so we ordered just one. The cake was absolutely delicious. Soon as we both had a spoonful, we considered ordering another, but we didn’t. The freshly steamed cake was served with condensed milk and butterscotch. We much preferred the condensed milk, but the cake is delicious by itself.
We really enjoyed our dinner at Xu. Almost every dish was excellent and the only dish that wasn’t was still well above par. The service was tremendous and the vibe was really relaxing, yet elegant. I’d recommend Xu for dates, foodies, and small groups – 4 maximum, I’d think, so if you have small family I’d recommend for a flavourful family dinner or a double date if you’re into that sort of thing lol. It’s fairly priced as well, especially considering the quality of the food.
Cuisine: Taiwanese Cuisine
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Shiima’s Star Dish: Montgomery Cheese & Spring Onion Xian Bing
Amen’s Star Dish: Char Shui Iberico Pork
Price: £30 – £40
Ratings: 5 out of 5