More Than Just Dim Sum at Shikumen Ealing. #review

If you know Shikumen you probably associate the collection of restaurants in London with top class lunchtime dim sum served in opulent surroundings with flair and elegance. However it turns out there is so much more to explore on the menu.

meal at Shikumen Ealing

 The name Shikumen means “stone gate” and is a style of housing unique to Shanghai. This arched housing blends Chinese and Western structural styles and was popular in the 40s following colonial influence. The owners of Shikumen say both their design and kitchen techniques apply methods seen in this architecture in that they combine the best of east and west.

The menu features a selection of the best Chinese dishes with carefully sourced, high quality ingredients pairing the very best of British produce with Chinese sauces, garnish and flavours.
Annexed to the Xanadu Hotel in Bond Street W5, Shikumen Ealing bar and restaurant is uber stylish with the sophisticated vibe of a high end restaurant.
frontage of Shikumen Ealing
I can see that this could prove off-putting to passers-by peering through the large windows but those who pluck the courage up to step through the doors will be pleasantly surprised at the prices. Portions are generous and since Chinese food is ideal for sharing, take a friend or two and you can experience lots of flavours without breaking the bank.
I was lucky enough to have my friend (and Asian food expert) May from EatCookExplore guiding me through the menu but if you don't have such a useful and entertaining resource put yourself in the hands of the staff who will happily help you team the right ingredients and flavours for your meal.
I said there is more to Shikumen than dim sum but it would be a shame to visit this restaurant without sampling at least some of these delicious Chinese delicacies that made the brand a legend in its own lunchtime. 
seafood dim sum at Shikumen Ealing
We opted for the incredibly popular steamed seafood dim sum selection which proved to be colourful as well as tasty. I was glad that my chopstick skills didn't let me down and nothing ended up in my lap. I'd have hated to waste any of the gorgeous food.
We both agreed we had to have crispy duck too and then May whizzed through the rest of the menu ordering a whole seabass which was moist and flaked at the merest touch of the fork, and Sansei Chicken claypot which to my English palate tasted similar to a sweet and sour dish but with more subtle flavours.
Sansei Chicken Claypot and rice at Shikumen Ealing #review
We also ordered an aubergine side dish and a gorgeous green bean dish with a hint of chilli which May said was one of her favourites. It is one of mine now too.

Of course we had to have rice and May chose a delicious version of egg fried rice with added fish roe which added texture and flavour for us. We finished our feast with a refreshing mango sorbet.

The whole meal was accompanied by a veritable stream of Dongding Oolong tea. An interesting fact is that if you require more Chinese tea you tilt the teapot lid so your server knows you need a refill. And instead of saying thank you when it is refilled which would interrupt the meal and conversation, it's polite to tap two fingers on the table instead.

Oolong tea at Shikumen Ealing #restaurantreview
One tip - don't rely too much on the website for accurate information about the menu and opening hours for Shikumen Ealing at the moment. The restaurant is going through a period of change with a focus on refining the menu, still offering dim sum but also fabulous main dishes and sides too. If you want to check on anything specific, contact the branch direct. We found the staff to be friendly and very helpful and knowledgeable.
They do a fabulous lunch deal (2 courses for £8.99, 3 for £10.99 or 4 for a bargain £12.99) which they describe as their business lunch special but it's equally suitable for a nice meet up with friends and family too.  Be warned though, at the moment the kitchen closes at 3pm for lunch orders so don't arrive at 2.30pm and expect a leisurely lunch. 
I hope I'm not putting anyone off outlining minor glitches with the website. The meal was superb with no stodge,  greasy prawn crackers, gloopy orange sauces or MSG induced thirst. There was a variety of interesting flavours and textures and I came away feeling like I'd definitely had a more authentic experience than if I'd gone to one of those Eat As Much As You Like places or my local takeaway.
interior of Shikumen Ealing
The restaurant itself is relaxed enough for a casual lunch while being smart enough for a celebration meal or a nice date night. With a top hygiene rating of five and recommendations from Squaremeal, TripAdvisor and the Michelin guide it's well worth walking past the many less exciting High Street national chain staples that line the streets of Ealing and enjoy a taste of the east at Shikumen.
decor at Shikumen Ealing #restaurantreview
Disclaimer: I enjoyed lunch as a guest of Shikumen Ealing for the purpose of this honest review.