My inner friend circle is pretty much made up entirely of foodies. When I think about it, food is actually the thing that brought a lot of me and my close friends together in the first place. Which means it’s not odd to see us getting excited about new restaurant openings, or the latest street food craze. One of said friends is Joe, who first introduced me to Taiwanese food. And we’ve been on a mission to find the best Taiwanese food London has to offer ever since. So when Joe messaged me about XU London (the team behind Bao) opening, we agreed to make a reservation straight away.
My first impressions of XU came from their Instagram. I was pretty much sold straight away, but part of me wondered if it could live up to such a perfect image. Little did I know, it would be even better than I expected.
As soon as you enter, you’ll notice the restaurant is sharp and sleek. It really does feel like you’ve been transported back to 1930s Taiwan, with nods to the era in the dark wood and art deco stylings. The menu – in the shape of a newspaper – also mirrors the feel of the restaurant.
But what did we order? Well we decided to go for a selection of smaller plates, to share…
- XU’s House Blend Tea (for the table)
- Selection of Bak Kwa (Taiwanese jerky)
- Xiao Tsai (
- Lotus Crisps – chilli, peanut, wintermelon syrup
- Tomato & Smoked Eel – dried soy daikon
- Mian Shi
- 2x Xian Bing (2pc) – pan fried aged pork pancake, vinegar & chilli oil
- Taro Dumpling (3pc) – taro stuffed with Taiwanese sausage, kow choi oil dressing
- Lo Tsui Ke – Hong Yu tea, gin, white miso, apple
- Takkiri – 10 Year oolong, Kavalan Single Malt, curdled milk soda
Our total came to £64.13 (with 12.5% service charge). Not overly pricey when you consider we had cocktails, but it certainly isn’t a cheap lunch. However I should point out that whilst the menu does include some pricier dishes, it also has it’s fair share of cheaper ones too.
Does it live up to the hype?
Quite frankly…yes. Taiwanese food really doesn’t get enough love in London, so XU is a welcomed breath of fresh air. Right from the service (exemplary), down to the dishes. Authentic flavours and ingredients are scattered across the menu, and presented elegantly. My personal favourites from our visit were the Tomato & Smoked Eel (refreshing, unique flavours), XU’s House Blend Tea (light & thirst quenching), and the Xian Bing (juicy, soup laden dumplings made with quality meat). The Xian Bing were so good we ordered another portion. In fact everything was so good I would have ordered it twice. I can’t wait to go back to XU – numerous times – and work my way through the menu.
Check out more: Where to Eat in London