Fu Manchu: Date Night and Dim Sum, Clapham

As you can tell, I had a bit of a foodie Bank Holiday weekend, but what better way to celebrate than with good food, some cocktails and date night? Especially when you’ve just had your hair done…!
On Friday night we treated ourselves to a date night, and a celebration that my degree is finally finished, and so we headed to Fu Manchu in Clapham. It’s a fantastic place for an alternative date night – it’s a great venue, the food is excellent and the cocktails are wonderful! And I don’t know about you, but I very rarely go for a cuisine such as this, and so it really was a treat.

We were seated by our lovely waitress who then explained the menu to us: Fu Manchu serve all different types of dim sum (fried, baked and steamed – the latter being the most traditional), and you order all your dishes at the same time, instead of the classic three course experience. 
I have to admit, I was so glad the waitress was so knowledgeable about the menu as we didn’t really know where to start! 

We were recommended to order 4/5 dim sum each and to order a range from the menu – and then the negotiations began, which naturally called for a refreshment to aid the decision making process!

After studying the wine, beer and cocktail menus, we finally settled on two, very different cocktails. My boyfriend ordered The Blood of Fu Manchu – a twist on the classic Bloody Mary, which was quite dark due to the addition of the port and the Chinese 5 spice, and so was a little much for me, but he certainly enjoyed it!

I was feeling a little more classic and went for a prosecco based cocktail, the Smith Summer Spritz, which was lovely, light fruity and went down a treat!

The restaurant itself is in the tunnels under the railway bridge, which makes for a very cool venue. I loved all the exposed bricks and the changing colours of the lights; it gives a really fun vibe to the restaurant, which really adds to the experience.

Since dim sum was originally taken with tea, and not as a meal in itself, it’s a very causal dining affair which is why the menu and the venue are perfect for each other. Perfect for alternative date night!

Now, I’ve seen my fair share of cocktails (and then some!) in my time, but I’ve never seen a cocktail served in such a fun glass! I couldn’t resist taking a million and one photos – but don’t worry, I’ve only chosen a few for you to see!

My glass was a little less interesting but supremely tasty nonetheless.

After a taste test on our cocktails and a critique of why the other one had got it wrong, the food started arriving, and ohhhh boy. Prepare for some major food porn..!

I’m a huge fan of prawn toast, and boy oh boy was this incredible: crunchy, fresh and all round delicious. I definitely angled for having two pieces and not just one..!

These little beauties are the Nap Cheun Gyun, crispy duck spring rolls, which were truly incredible. The outside was very flaky and crispy, and the duck inside was so tender. It might sound strange, but we’ve all had spring rolls before, but I’ve never had food that tasted so authentic.

These Xiao Long Bao, the pork and crab sauced dumpling, which were spicy, tender and all round an excellent choice. I love a bit of surf and turf, so when I saw that this was an option I knew we had ot order it! I have to admit it was a little spicy for me, but only just.

By this point, we couldn’t believe that all this food was still arriving! I loved these Cha Sui Su – honey barbecue pork puff – anything BBQ-esque is always a favourite of mine, but I loved the Chinese take on this classic. The pasty was flaky, but not crumbly, and the pork inside was beautifully marinated and oh so tasty.

We were glad there were only two of these – or there would have been a fight for the third one!

The Har Gau, king prawn dumplings in a translucent skin, split the table a little. I loved them, as I love all forms of prawns, but my boyfriend really wasn’t a fan. He found the skin a little too slippery which put him off. I understand where he’s coming from, but it didn’t really put me off as I thought the prawns were wonderful.

Lots of the steamed dumplings are served in gorgeous baskets, and some are even stacked. It’s little details like this that really set restaurants apart for me. That, and our waitress was so attentive and kept asking if we needed a reminder of what everything was, a history of dim sum, or if there was anything else we wanted.

Now this, this is a 100% you-must-order-when-you-go-to-Fu-Manchu kind of dish. Lo Mai Gai, or Chinese sausage and prawn stuffed with rice and cooked in a lotus leaf, was genuinely delicious. You know the kind of dish where you’re being polite and offering your dining partner some, but secretly hoping they either don’t take it or don’t like it so that you can eat it all? It’s one of those.

The meat is beautifully cooked, and marinated (it takes 3 days to make this dish!), it literally falls apart on your chopsticks. It was a little like unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning, it really was that exciting. It felt a little like a dumpling as the rice was packed very tight, but it just didn’t have the skin.

I have to say, if we hadn’t been so stuffed we would have ordered another one of these!

Another table divider: the Cha Sui Bao, honey barbecue fluffy pork bun, which I loved but Andy felt was a little heavy. I have to say, I really enjoyed that these dumplings were a little heavier, and almost dough like. It made a really nice contrast with the very light and soft meat, but I was alone in that; never mind, two dumplings for Lauren!

The only problem was the table was quite small – so we had to keep chopping and changing the plates and glasses, but it really wasn’t an issue as the waitress was clearly very used to doing this! Once the cocktails were finished, Andy went for a beer and I had a delicious glass of wine.

I’m a real dim sum convert after our date night at Fu Manchu; it’s so different, delicious and overall a really fun dinner.

The other thing is, since the food doesn’t take long to cook, it’s actually a surprisingly fast dinner, which also adds to the very relaxed feel. We were at the table for maybe an hour and a half, and then retreated to the bar for a drink before heading home.

Fu Manchu is an ideal place for an alternative date night – I also think it would be incredible as a first date restaurant if anyone is looking for some ideas, or if you just want to go for dinner with the girls and grab some cocktails, this is also a great spot! They have larger tables, and we saw quite a few sets of girlfriends on a Friday night having a great time.

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Not ready to leave this Edwardian/Opium den themed restaurant after your amazing meal? Panic not, Fu Manchu transforms into a nightclub for those of you who wish to don your dancing shoes and party into the night!

Fu Manchu
15 – 16 Lendal Terrace

We were guests of Fu Manchu but all opinions, words and photographs are my own – we really did have an incredible date night!

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