London: Ba Shan

British-born food writer and Gourmet contributor Fuchsia Dunlop is an outstanding communicator of Chinese food culture to westerners. Her books on the regional cuisines of China, including her seminal first book, Sichuan Cookery and the recent Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, clean up at award ceremonies, but any involvement with restaurateurs has until recently been a small sideline. In 2006, she worked as a consultant to a leading Chinese restaurateur, Shao Wei, in an effort to bring the real cooking of Sichuan to London. The result, Bar Shu, created a storm of interest and critical acclaim, and understanding of Sichuan food in London improved massively. Her pioneering work continued with the little dumpling bar Baozi Inn in 2008, but the third collaboration may be the best yet. Ba Shan has a long menu of short eats from several regions of mainland China, all produced with exquisite care. Bowls of spicy handmade noodles can be eaten alongside Sichuan filled flatbreads, which look a little like hamburgers. Many dishes surprise and titillate, such as tiny dumplings that are colored purple with red cabbage juice; or the “strange-flavor” peanuts, which aren’t so much strange as incredibly hard to resist. Prices are only mid-range, but the cooking here is a world apart from the dozens of Cantonese restaurants in neighboring Chinatown.

Ba Shan 24 Romilly St., London (+44-20-7287-3266)



Post a Comment
Subscribe to Gourmet