Review of 'Tian Fu'

We keep walking by this Chinese restaurant going to and from Westfield. Every time it is busy with Chinese people enjoying the food - A good sign. In the area on Saturday we decided to give this a go.

The interior is fairly cool with wood floors, simply decorated tables and chairs. We were made very welcome the moment we arrived and seated in the middle of the restaurant. The menu is quite interesting with pictures of most dishes and quite a bit different than what you might normally expect from a Chinese take-away so much so that we really couldn't make up our mind. There was a separate sheet describing their “hot pot” option at £20 per person (minimum two people) for as much as you could eat. I have heard about this type of “Sichuan” hot pot and seen it on television but never tried it so now seemed like as good a time as any! The idea is that you pick from various broths that boil in a pot on top of a burner on your table into which you put the raw ingredients which stew in the broth. Simple. We went down the middle in terms of spicy/not-spicy with half spicy and half chicken broth (you could also have just one of these or have the “preserved vegetable” stock as well).

Our hot pot arrived and it was a large stainless steel bowl divided in the middle with the broths on either side. They were not kidding about the “spicy” as it looked quite evil with a lot of hot peppers pieces floating in it and quite red in colour. The chicken broth was stocked with lots of fresh vegetables including, unusually for Chinese food in my experience, tomatoes. We were taken over to a small table near the kitchen to chose from various sauces and spices for dipping. From the extensive list of very fresh raw ingredients over the next hour we chose prawns, squid, fish balls, broccoli, rice noodles, chicken, pork belly, beef, and cabbage…Though we found the broth was quite bland so the stronger ingredients such as beef worked much better. On the options I was surprised to see a lot of sweetbreads including, unusually for the UK, various livers, kidneys and tripes which I would love to have tried but my date for the evening is not so keen…

The dinner was bottomless which makes the £20 price tag a lot easier to take. They kept topping up the broth but we were also free to order as many raw ingredients as we wished as many times as we wished. I had thought about ordering rice to accompany the hot pot but this was certainly not needed. An hour and a half later we left very full and quite happy. We did watch other more experienced diners with their hot pots and learned a few things that we did not do: (1) skim off the hot peppers in the broth if it is too much for you (2) drain the cooked food, do not drink the broth (3) put the cooked food into the dipping sauce instead of simply an accent - this will provide much of the flavour. It was not a clean meal with broth flying everywhere as you attempt to retrieve the cooked food so be careful - it is hot and the spicy broth stains!

Anyway, it was a lot of fun and quite different for us. The staff were very helpful and pleasant, dropping by our table regularly despite being busy to make sure we were doing alright as well as just for a chat - Very laid back. It was not exactly full of flavour but I think that was just because we were not quite doing it right (see above). We will certainly be willing to give it a go again at some point having learned the lessons…

Rating:

Review Date: 2017-04-08


Cuisine: Chinese

Address: 39 Bulwer St, Shepherd's Bush, London W12 8AR ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Shepherd's Bush TUBE Shepherd's Bush Market

Location: London (England) - Shepherd's Bush

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Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8740 4546

URL: https://www.tianfulondon.com/