Throw out the hardware
Let's do it right
It's been an age since Dos Hermanos last went for Dim Sum. It used to be a regular fixture on a Sunday after we'd got all tired and emotional the previous evening. Since we're a bit older now Saturday night is less likely to see us shaking our collective asses at the capital's hip and happening discos and more likely to find us nursing a pint of mild in a quiet pub contemplating an evening of Pork Pie, repeats of Dad's Army and a nice cup of tea.
Today was different. We had temporarily retired the slippers last night and went out with our mutual buddy Scott for another enjoyable meal at 12 Temple Place. We'd had a few pints and a few bottles of wine, not a massive amount, but enough to convince us that some restorative Chinese tea and dumplings was in order.
For reasons unknown we had never tried Shanghai Blues in High Holborn before. Maybe it was the mixed reviews the place got when it opened three or so years ago, maybe it was its odd location just outside the West End. Whatever the reason we enjoyed some of the best Dim Sum we've had since Pearl Liang.
Everything was freshly prepared and was characterized by the excellent dough for the dumplings and the expert deep frying. Although not as creative as say, Hakkasan, there's still enough on the menu to differentiate it from the mostly dire Chinatown norm. And the execution was much better.
Char Siu Bao were small, light, fluffy buns – very different to the usually heavy and doughy examples one usually gets. Sichuan Filleted Pork chop was strips of the meat and fat in a rich sauce enlivened by Sichuan peppercorns. Lamb dumplings came with an unctuous stew of that meat that spoke of long slow braising. The classic Xiao Long Bao was a bit short on the stock front but weren't bad at all.
There was a clever twist to the usually prosaic Turnip cake which had been cubed and deep-fried so that the outside was crisp and the inside was soft and creamy. I felt it was only slightly spoiled by the mixture of greens, bacon and beansprouts that was piled on top and which were a little greasy.
A deft hand with the deep frying meant that dishes such as Crispy Yam Cuttlefish stuffed with Masago (fish roe) and Yam Croquettes were actually crispy and grease free.
Dumpling fillings gave us fewer wow moments but the tastes were so clean and un-claggy that we managed to put away maybe twelve (possibly more) dishes without feeling overfull. There was also none of the dreaded dry-mouth syndrome showing that the kitchen doesn't need to use MSG,
Unusually, if you have tea, you have to order a pot per person but they keep topping it up (as they should) and I suppose they're still paying back the cost of decorating the place (think Hakkasan-lite). Speaking of cost, Shanghai Blues is more expensive than your run-of-the-mill Dim Sum joint. Quality costs though and having a well-paced, excellent lunch and still being able to walk out of the restaurant nicely replete without a heavy bloated feeling was worth every penny.