Hidden away, south of the river, in North Clapham you’ll find Fu Manchu at 15-16 Lendal Terrace. This dim sum and cocktail bar will allow you to be served from inside the belly of Fu Manchu, the famous Chinese master criminal introduced by Sax Rohmer in his early 20th Century cult novels. If you’re looking for a bar scene that will easily smooth into a nightclub then Fu Manchu will be your favourite new addiction.
Once you enter this cave-like setting you’ll find a wall-length bar on your left, but just before that there’s a striking image of the legendary Fu Manchu himself. This artistic piece adds a certain graphic edge to the dramatic setting as the eyes of the master watch your every move. The smell of incense will ignite your desire to get lost in the past of Fu Manchu’s explosive criminal plots.
My favourite piece of furnishing would have to be the golden Buddha hidden away in the corner near some cosy seating. Everything about this setting screams mystery and drama, which is lit up under striking light installation created by Lighting Designer Louisa Smurthwaite. The specific aesthetic pieces dotted around the room aren’t overdone and the exquisiteness is in the small details, such as the subtle candles on every table. The raw brick work finishes off the setting as you revel and dance away under old railway arches.
This joint is perfect for those looking to unwind after work in a friendly but buzzing atmosphere. The vibe can go from chilled to pumped as the DJs take to the turntable, and it also helps that the drinks live up to their namesakes. Each cocktail creation has been inspired by Fu Manchu’s shady associates and elaborate criminal plots. The variety on offer can be overwhelming but when you see how they are created and how skilfully the bar team handle the crowd, you’ll be wanting to try every single one.
My favourite would have to be Yuzu-Zu for £8.50 and Lady Jasmin for £9. Yuzu-Zu is a heady combination of sweet Swedish Cariel Vanilla Vodka, Cointreau, tangy lemon juice, Angostura bitter and magical egg white shaken with yuzu tea paste. Yuzu is a rare citrus fruit from Japan which tastes like a mix of lemon, mandarin and grapefruit. You can taste the burst of these flavours in the Yuzu-Zu but with more of a subtle twist- sweetened by Cointreau and the egg white creating a rich, creamy texture finished off with a beautiful foamy cap.
The most elegant cocktail, named Lady Jasmin, is a floral twist on the classic white lady cocktail. It has been shaken up with sweet Jasmin syrup, Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, egg white and Angostura bitters. The addition of Angostura bitters and Jasmin syrup transforms this cocktail, balancing its flavours and adding new dimension and depth. The egg white in Lady Jasmin gives way to an even foamier and thicker finish than the Yuzu-Zu, garnished with what looks like the petals of a Pansy or a similar flower.
Another cocktail you must try is the Dragon Fruit Palamo, an infusion of Sauza Hacienda tequila, Cocchi Americano Vermouth and lime juice, garnished with a delicious pink and white dragon fruit. For something with more of a kick go for Smith’s Summer Spritz, a combination of Smith’s Spritz mix shaken with lemon and apple juice and fresh lime leaves topped with sparkling prosecco. Fu Manchu’s cocktails are made from Chinese tea infusions, Asian spices and exotic flavours.
To complement their noteworthy cocktail menu is their Dim Sum selection. Take a bite into their steamed or fried savoury dumplings. I’d recommend the Sui Mai, which is a prawn and chicken open dumpling for £4 or the Har Gau for £4.50 which is king prawn dumplings in a sticky translucent skin. Remember to bite into your Dim Sum as soon as it arrives, as the flavour is at its best when heated. Your Dim Sum will arrive in cute wicker baskets to help keep the temperature.
Head down to Fu Manchu every Friday night for the Yao Down Project with Jonathan Bestley and guests who will be bringing you the best in Nu Disco and Deep House until 3am. Every Saturday you’ll be able to loosen up to tech and deep house sets played by resident innovative DJs, Melvo Baptise, Russ Jay and Jedd Burry.
Fu Manchu is the ultimate triple threat, you’ll be eating delicious Dim Sum, drinking inspired and exotically flavoured cocktails, and dancing within what will feel like the villainous master’s very own den shrouded in mystery.