[Once again, I’ve outsourced a blog to Knockers. She’s like my own private Bangalore. Which might explain the terrific bangers. That’s a word used by Gok Wan. I don’t normally use Gok Wan as a cultural touchstone, but fatherhood and onanism have changed me.]
As we all know, the first rule of Epicureanism is that some things should be posh and some things should be dirty. Take two of my friends who stated just the other night that burgers and cheese on toast must be dirty, but they will only tolerate posh wine and posh tequila. I know, who knew tequila tasted of anything except salt and lime?
In my book, chocolate has to be dirty. Don’t come at me with your Charbonnel truffles and your Prestat violet creams. Even Lindt’s borderline and you can get that at Budgens. Just bite the chewy bit off a Twix, dunk the rest in your tea and f**k off. [We talked about this Knockers. That is the first and only swear word ever to make it onto the blog. I hope you’re pleased with yourself, you rancid lady-trench.]
Chinese food, on the other hand, has to be posh. There are some people who put this on their dirty list, but these people are deranged. Who wants to eat stir-fried rat’s lover that’s been licked by a dog? You know who you are.
Shikumen, then. Posh Chinese at the new-ish Dorsett Hotel on Shepherds Bush roundabout. Not the sexiest of locations, I’ll grant you. They might have prettied-up the park opposite but it’s still full of drunk people with their arses hanging out. Mercifully, the hotel is nice and the windows are tinted.
Inside, it’s serene and lovely and the first time I went, almost empty. Our most trusted food pals had been badgering us to eat there for ages and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t packed every night. It has to be a lack of PR because if you want Nobu-level Chinese food at prices that don’t turn your stomach, this is the place.
The first time I went (Tuesday) pals chose for us and the stand-out dish for me was a light, fluffy dumpling that popped in my mouth releasing broth that trickled down my throat. I know that sounds pervy and yeah, it slightly was. So when I took my friend Kit there on Friday it was a tragedy that the dish was off. Thankfully, the seafood dim sum was ON and it was lush.
Kit and I let our delightful waiter choose for us and he nailed it. We had amazing prawns, stewed aubergine, grilled pork, steamed broccoli and just the one bowl of steamed rice. He mixed a special chili/soy sauce for us and even though I couldn’t feel my face for a while, it definitely enhanced the experience.
Just as Kit and I were leaning back, top buttons undone, surveying the mountain of food we’d over-ordered, she asked Delightful Waiter to bring us his favourite dish. It was the closet thing to dirty Chinese we had so yeah, there’s plenty for filthbags. We could barely eat a bite of it so imagine our delight when they handed us our leftover food and (second bottle of) wine in a lovely bag.
It’s been a bit tricky to work out the exact dishes we had because we didn’t see the menu. Apart from the wine menu that is, at which point I passed off our previous hosts’ excellent choice as my own (Coopers Creek Pinot Noir; £32). I say let’s defer to the photos and you’ll get the gist. I’m sure Del Monte won’t mind as he maintains his photo captions are the best part of his blog. And they are. I mean, they’re the only good bit. Okay, there’s been a couple, but they really were very good. [Everyone knows the best part of my blog is the core concept, pithy prose and the occasional pictures of me. Grammar and syntax not so much.]