Review: Fu Manchu, Clapham North

Dim sum as you soak up some live funk and jazz? Yes please, says Brendan Hodrien

Fu Manchu Players: every Thursday. Photo: PR
Fu Manchu Players: every Thursday. Photo: PR
What do you get when you find a space in the Clapham Bridge arches of Lendal Terrace and slam together R&B and funk music, dim sum and an atmospherically lit cocktail bar? Surely the answer would be disaster – but no, it’s in fact SW4 newcomer Fu Manchu.

It opened a few months back, and has been serving up top notch dim sum for some time now, but the team has only just launched their two headlining music nights: the Fu Manchu Players are on every Thursday, serenading customers with a carefully selected playlist, while 90s icon Errol Reid is a much more lively and powerful voice on Fridays, commanding the space with those imposing lungs.

As you enter you immediately notice the east-meets-west vibe the owners have tried to create with traditional oriental partitioning and colour schemes decorating an uncompromisingly English cavern setting under Clapham Bridge.

Fu Manchu:
Fu Manchu: nice dumplings. Photo: PR
Hungry? The dim sum is ordered by circling corresponding numbers on a helpful chitty that you hand to your server. The small portions dictate that you’ll be able to sample a large variety of dishes: I’d personally recommend the Sui Mai (pork and prawn dumpling), the Jiua Yim Sim Yau (fried salt and pepper squid) and the Cha Sui Su (honey barbeque pork puff). The menu has enough variety to keep you coming back to try new things and the food is delicious enough that you’ll want the same thing again on repeat.

They’ve done away with the usual limited selection of beers that typically accompany your dim sum and offer a broad cocktail menu featuring many of your old favourites with a spicy eastern twist and also some house specialities. I could go into very intimate detail on a number of drinks here but I’ll try cut it down to my two favourites: The Blood of Fu Manchu, a gorgeous house revision of the Bloody Mary, with even more of a kick, and the all too drinkable Bride of Fu Manchu, a tart and tangy concoction with a vanilla vodka, Cointreau and lemon juice base. Damn, that’ll set your taste buds alight. Only slight issue is that sometimes service can be a little slow.

The importance of the right soundtrack to an evening is sometimes underestimated and here house band The Fu Manchu Players provide a backing track to your evening with their take on hits from artists ranging from Bruno Mars to Otis Redding. It makes a surprisingly lovely accompaniment to a meal; nicely bridging the gap between quirky cocktails and traditional Asian food.

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Fu Unplugged is every Thursday from 8pm, free entry. Find Fu Manchu at 15-16 Lendal Terrace, London SW4 7UX, Clapham North. Dim sum from £3.50, beers from £4.50/ cocktails £8.50. More details here

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