After hearing the news that the team behind the ever popular Bao were opening up a brand new restaurant called Xu which would explore the Taiwanese food further we were very excited. The even better news was that they take bookings throughout the whole restaurant, no more queuing in the rain to sample the food.
The name actually comes from one of the owners late grandfathers and the interior design is lovely. Led by the designers who’ve worked on the likes of Bellanger and Fischer’s, the place is covered in gorgeous wood panels with art deco fittings throughout and comfy leather seating.
We settled into our booth upstairs and were then presented with the newspaper style menu. It’s split into a few different groups, first up the starters which consists of Xiao Tsai which are the cold options and then Mian shi which covers the dishes which are wheat based, slightly heavier. The lovely waiter recommended 4 from each of these sections, although this seemed rather a lot once he then also said 4 dishes from the mains along with sides. There was 4 of us and all of it is meant for sharing but start with a little less and see if you’re still hungry.
First up we went on the waiter’s recommendation with the tomato & smoked eel which was lovely. Had a slight kick to it and the majority of the dish is tomato based so the eel in fact is the secondary focus for anyone nervous about trying eel. Alongside this we had a small dish of lotus crisps, not one for those with nut allergies (Simon), as the peanut flavour was wonderfully strong throughout.
As expected the crunchy chicken wing with sanbei glaze and caviar was so good. Although the caviar seemed pretty unnecessary, none of us could taste it on top of the chicken.
We then moved onto the Mian shi dishes, starting with the cuttlefish toast, which was a wonderful version of prawn toast. Going to put to shame any other imitations I have in the future, this dish was actually complimentary since we couldn’t remember if we’d ordered it, but by the time they’d come back we’d already finished it.
This pleasant surprise happened again when we munched our way through the amazing sausage taro dumpling. After salivating over the one dish we’d already had they emerged again with another plate, which we honestly said we hadn’t ordered but he said ah, just pretend you didn’t get the first one, winning. These were beautiful squidgy dumplings with minced sausage meat stuffed in the middle, bit like an Asian sausage roll.
The two other highlights, although tough to pick a winner was the Xian Bing which were tasty pork pancakes with a vinegar and chilli oil. A crispy outside that once bitten into provided you with pork meat crammed to the sides. Finally it was the shortrib and bone marrow beef pancakes, similar to duck pancake style of build and wrap but just so much better. Complete with naughty potato crumb to give it that added soft crunch within each bite.
Moving onto the mains, the excitement had built even more for what was in-store for us. We went for the classics, Shou Pa Chicken and Char Shui Iberico Pork. Both incredibly tasty and divided the table with their favourites, where I was leaning towards the pork dish but both were just amazing. Alongside these we shared rice and a lovely veg dish (although still contained pork) of Kale and soy cured pork, radish and tiger dressing.
With this our meal was brought to an end, they don’t offer desserts yet, no doubt to make sure they turn over the tables quickly enough. Safe to say Xu is going to do very well and I can’t wait to frequent it again in the future. Get yourself down there for some excellent grub.