Dim sum to me is like a roast dinner to many, it warms my cockles and brings meaning to the term 'comfort food'. These parcels aren't always easy to get right however, and there's only a few names in London that I trust to light that foodie fire within me.
Found in a shopping centre in Finchley Road, I was a little taken aback by the fact that Shikumen is propped against a Nando's, neighbour to Sainsburys, and a stone's throw away from a Paperchase. The dining crowd is more post-shopper than it is pre-planned date night, and the atmosphere a little slumped before 8pm, but I had a Margarita and a friend to catch up with, so I wasn't going to let that all dampen the mood.
Platters make me feel uncomfortable, and I often find them a poor substitute for a clear and concise dish, but Shikumen's dim sum platters were a treat. Sharing between us the vegetable dim sum platter at £9.90 and the seafood dim sum platter at £12.50, these parcels were sticky and pretty. While the har gau was the biggest disappointment of the bunch (too much product that felt wedged, with a lack of seasoning), the pumpkin alongside the crab meat and prawn were two stand out bites in a starter that did what it should, get us ready for mains.
Opting for the Crispy Fried Prawn with dried chilli and cashew at £16.50, I was chuffed to enjoy something a little more, well, meaty. As someone that denounced meat nearly 3 years ago, Shikumen have seemingly created a dish that has all the bite of chicken, with only the ingredient of fish. While I loved the dish, and think the flavours were exemplary, £16.50 is a wild price for a restaurant in a shopping centre, especially when diners can get chicken and chips in the restaurant below, for half the price.
While I wasn't mad on Shikumen, and the size of the restaurant added to a warped atmosphere on a shy Saturday night, I definitely wouldn't dismiss their dim sum.
Shikumen Finchley Road can be found at 255 Finchley Rd, London NW3 6LU.