Jim and Jane are a couple of fellow hedonists and now regular contributors to the Hg2 Blog. Their identities? A mystery. We’ll be bringing you their restaurant reviews each and every week. This week the couple check out Mushu, a casual Oriental eatery on Warren Street.
Read their last review on Ba Shan here
Check out their blog here
Mushu, 53 Warren Street, W1T
Jane: The day started prophetically enough.
‘Another day,’ said the caretaker in the lift despairingly. I was on my way to see my personal trainer for some early morning torture, having decided to forgo the two flights of stairs for some light relief before the real pain began.
‘What else can you say?’ he continued in a downtrodden tone of voice. ‘Things are so miserable in this world, all you can say is ‘another day.’’
Never one for being miserable or for thinking that the glass is half-empty, I replied, ‘Well, I’m happy. There are a lot of things to be happy about.’
‘Oh, I’m happy too,’ he said, which seemed a major turnaround for a man for whom, only seconds before, had been on the verge of telling me that the end is nigh. ‘Perhaps we’re the rare exception.’
‘Perhaps,’ I said, as I stepped out of the lift. ‘Well, have a good day.’
It was my father who told me that we only have life so we should do whatever it takes to make us happy. I know some folks like to revel in their misery, but I’m a big proponent of happiness. Happy people make other people happy and people that enjoy doing what they enjoy are generally much happier than people who don’t.
When it comes to being happy, I have pretty simple requirements. I am happy when I see Jim on a regular basis, when I eat good food and drink good wine (preferably with Jim). I am happy when socialising with my friends and when my kids put their plates in the dishwasher after we have eaten. I am happy when I have enough money in the bank to pick up a bargain in the Selfridges sale. Finally, I am happy doing my job, although it does not always make me enough to pick up a bargain in the Selfridges sale.
Mushu is a restaurant that has been born out of a couple’s passion and desire for happiness. Situated on Warren Street, a veritable no-man’s land known to me only for being a source of cheap Viagra, Mushu was opened in 2010 by an ex-City couple with an enthusiasm for clean, healthy Oriental food. Thankfully, it has avoided the banker-turned-restaurateur clichés. In other words, everything works.
The premise is simple and not terribly original – unfussy, honest food served up in simple surroundings. Think Wagamama, but on a much smaller (and much tastier) scale. Frankly, the stool I was sitting on was not terribly comfortable, especially after my early morning exercise session, but after I washed down a cup of warm sake, it was bearable. After a further glass of the very tasty Pinot Grigio, it was better. Call me middle-aged, but I do like to sit in a chair. It’s OK for quick in-and-out lunches, but for dinner? Evening diners going for relaxed Izakaya-style dining might want to stick to the long benches – I’m just saying.
Jim; ‘So, Jim. Are you up for a little New Year adventure outside your French bistro/Mayfair comfort zone?’ asked Jane.
‘What do you have in mind, Jane? A swinging party, perhaps?’ I asked, hopefully.
‘Nothing of the sort’, she replied. ‘I was thinking of a recently opened Izakaya-style restaurant in Fitzrovia.’
‘What is that you say? A Japanese pub with red lanterns – in Belgravia?!’
‘No, an Asian fusion restaurant with communal tables in Fitzrovia serving, amongst other things, noodle dishes, Beijing dumplings and sake.’
Always up for a culinary adventure, I said, ‘Let’s give it a go.’
A bright, no-nonsense, fit-for-purpose room, Mushu has clear sight lines to the kitchen and prep area to watch, if so desired, the culinary magic being prepared before your eyes.
We were offered a tasting menu that allowed us the opportunity to sample the breadth of the well-priced menu. The house speciality is the Water and Potsticker dumplings, with fillings that included Korean spicy beef and Kimchi and a homemade Szechuan garlic sauce guaranteed to spark your tastebuds. The highlight of the lunch was Nasu Dengaku, a grilled Aubergine finished with sweet miso sauce. Absolutely melt-in-your-mouth.
If the original purpose of the Izakaya is to fill the hunger gap created when drinking sake and doing it in an environment that might encourage you to drink more sake, I would say Mushu has succeeded on all fronts. A good valued culinary adventure that is well worth travelling to Fitzrovia for.