If you’re on the hunt for dim sum and late-night cocktails south of the river, Fu Manchu in Clapham is the place to go. The Resident checks it out…
Fu Manchu is well known as a buzzing cocktail bar and live music venue. Stepping inside, you find yourself in a cavernous space beneath the railway arches that feels like a cross between a Prohibition-era speakeasy and an opium den. At the weekend, Claphamites flock there en masse for disco, old school hip hop and soulful house.
Hedonistic atmosphere aside, the dishes and drinks are worth the trek in themselves during the week. On a Thursday evening, it’s not so hectic in there that you can’t catch up with friends properly – but it’s close enough to the weekend to indulge in their deliciously light and spiced (although probably still quite alcoholic) cocktails.
Although there’s also a decent wine list, we decided to stick to the Asian flavours of the cocktail menu. First up for my companion was Lin Tang’s Szechuan Sling – an explosive, exotic blend of Szechian pepper, Finlandia mango vodka, yellow chartreuse and mango juice topped up with soda water.
I opted for the rather intriguing Secret Essence of the Poppy Hill, which proved a refreshing mix of sake, Germain elderflower liqueur, rose liqueur, lime juice and fresh cucumber. Both were incredibly prettily presented with well-chosen garnishes.
When it comes to ordering the food, you have to tick the boxes on the list in the order in which you’d like them to arrive. Not understanding exactly how this worked, I accidentally ordered most of my dishes at the same time – which simply meant that a rather impressive mountain of dim sum in traditional wicker baskets built up before me.
The bite-size proportions of Cantonese dim sum, however, mean the portions of three or four per dish aren’t too heavy, and they’re perfect for sharing.
The steamed chicken, lemongrass and coconut jiaozi (dumplings) were a clear winner, and of the fluffy bao buns, the sweet potato and caramelised garlic ranked high. The deliciously juicy combination of lamb, cumin and chilli, however, was the dish of the night. In a cursory nod to my five-a-day, I also ordered a virtuous xiaochi (‘small eat’) of virtuous broccoli, chilli and black vinegar, which proved a moreish choice.
Although there are also sweet eats available including coconut sorbet, matcha green tea ice cream and crispy custard buns, we washed down our feast of dim sum and dumplings with a Mandarin Mimosa – Napoleon mandarin liqueur with freshly squeezed mandarin juice, topped with Mercier champagne.
Skipping off into the night with our fortune cookies, we could already feel that Friday feeling gathering pace…
15-16 Lendal Terrace, Clapham SW4 7UX; 020 3397 8844; fumanchu.co.uk
Open till 3am Fridays and Saturdays. Also serves Bottomless Brunch on Saturdays and All You Can Eat Dim Sum on Sundays