Last week saw me negotiating the back streets of Clapham and eventually arriving at some railway arches next to a car mechanic garage for a sneak peek of its new neighbour, Fu Manchu. Named after a famous mustachioed Chinese master criminal Fu Manchu is a new late night dim sum and cocktail bar in Clapham North aiming to 'bring a different kind of social experience to South London'. Rather a sweeping statement, but it's certainly bringing something new and welcome to the current Clapham bar scene.
Whenever I've been out in Clapham I've been struck by the sheer amount of fancy dress that continues to dominate, with people well in to their mid/late twenties stubbornly hanging on to their university days by donning a Baywatch outfit and ordering novelty shots for an otherwise pleasant night out in SW4 and the surrounds. None of that here so far, thankfully. Look, I like a night out as much as the next person, but I'm also pretty fond of my pipe and slippers these days; I'm past being jostled at the bar and losing my voice from shouting over inappropriately loud music at 6pm when all you wanted was a post-work bottle of wine and a chat. So, I was pleased to find that at Fu Manchu DJs play actually quite good music (which I'm told is a mixture of deep house and nu-disco) at a level where you can still have a conversation until it is definitely time to go and have a dance. And there are plenty of seats - all boxes checked for me so far. The decor is also cool; all nice lighting, exposed bricks and different nooks and crannys to go and escape in and stuff yourself silly with steamed baskets of dim sum should you wish.
Over to the bar, the cocktails are well crafted with exotic ingredients and Chinese tea infusions. We tried the Kiss of Death (primarily because it looked like a sexed up espresso martini) and were blown away. With a description reading 'bourbon shaked with St Germain elderflower liqueur, homemade star anise syrup, fresh blackberries and lemon covered with Kiss of Death foam', I fear this may be beyond my limited capabilities to recreate at home but my word I intend to try. It was deeply fruity, but the star anise prevented it from being sickly and the foam was some kind of light as air egg white lemon infusion. So good:
The prosecco was free flowing and gratifyingly served in those lovely little Art Deco coupes, so we could pretend we were in the Great Gatsby whilst eyeing the incredible looking dim sum emerging from the kitchen. There was rather a scrum for them when the waitresses attempted to make it across the room with the baskets, but I did manage to try a few and can report that they were worth the wait. The honey barbecue pork puff was divine, and its pumpkin counterpart also went down very well.
Dim sum is such a great idea for bar food, I don't know why more places haven't thought of it - perfect party finger food.
If I ever find myself down the southern end of the northern line again I would definitely make a point of coming back to try some more of the dim sum and many many many cocktails.
Thank you Fu Manchu and your lovely PR ladies for an excellent evening of complimentary canapes, cocktails and fizz Chinese villain style.