What's the draw
What do you get when you take specialty high-grade teas rarely found outside of Taiwan, add a selection of traditional Taiwanese delicacies, and place it against a backdrop of cinematic interiors reminiscent of 1930s Taipei? XU, on Soho's Rupert Street, that's what. It's led by the team behind BAO (so expect great things) and everything from XU's calming dark wood and teal interiors to the stylised menus will leave you feeling like you're a world away from the crush of Piccadilly Circus around the corner.
What to drink
XU isn't just a teahouse by name – no, tea steeps (sorry) into everything XU does. Just a quick glance at that cocktail list and you'll see it popping up everywhere. We took a bit of a shine to the Cloud Forest: a coupette of raspberry, gin, white miso and Hong Yu tea that hits your palate with a jolt of fruity sweetness, brought back from the edge of 'too much' by a drop of mellowing umami of the miso and the slight tannic bitterness of the tea. Eva Fricke's collaboration with XU should also get a look-in if you're in for some vino. The 2017 'Rose Mountain' riesling from Rheingau, Germany is an easy drinker, the acidity and orange-blossom notes pairing perfectly with the mix of flavours on offer on the food menu.
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What to eat
Your endgame should really be a plate of the Shou Pa chicken, served alongside an indulgent bowl of lardo lard rice. Roasted in a charcoal oven and then marinated in ginger, aged white soy and spring onion, the chicken is deliciously salty and full of fresh green spice. Pair that with the rich, fattiness of the rice and you're on to something immeasurably great. Of course, you can't just dive straight in (well you could, but patience is a virtue), so first get an order in of the beef short rib pancakes; the so-called 'numbing' slips of beef tendon doused in an oily blend of fiery szechuan pepper and coriander stalks; and one (or two) helpings those sausage taro dumplings in the vibrant green coriander oil. If there's still room for dessert, then the Mai Lai cake – which tastes almost like a Taiwanese-inspired sticky toffee pud, with its condensed milk and orange butterscotch sauce – is an excellent way to see off your meal.
Mains from £15; cocktails from £9.50. 30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL; xulondon.com