Shanghai Blues

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
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Holborn
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From the moment you walk in, through the clubby dark foyer and electric-blue cocktail bar into a dining room that blends candle-lit Shanghai teahouse and hip cocktail bar, Shanghai Blues looks like a class act. Soon after we arrived, however, things went awry: wrong orders, long waits, dropped bottles, and spilt drinks. Our steamed har gau prawn dumplings never arrived. In spite of the flaky service, the food can be very good, and dishes such as steamed sea bass with Shanghai spice and chilli were beautifully cooked – and even beautifully filleted at the table without mishap. The dim sum shows more imagination than most, particularly a delicate, juicy scallop dumpling in green (spinach juice) pastry. For those prepared to go beyond the knee-jerk British order of crispy shredded duck, the barbecued pipa (banjo) duck, served with fingers of steamed white bread, is a lacquered, action-packed treat. Wines are pricey, and puds are very modish, à la warm green-tea pancakes and edgy dessert cocktails. Smooth out the service, and Shanghai Blues could be the class act it promises to be.

Venue name: Shanghai Blues
Contact:
Address: 193-197 High Holborn
London
WC1V 7BD
Opening hours: Meals/dim sum served noon-11.30pm daily.
Transport: Tube: Holborn tube
Price: Main courses £12-£30. Dim sum £4-£5.30. Set lunch (Mon-Fri) £15 per person (minimum 2).

Average User Rating

2.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:3
LiveReviews|9
1 person listening
Caroline S

Waste of time and money. The food is tasteless and the service is terrible. Perda de tempo e dinheiro. A comida é ruim e o service é péssimo.

Cal W

One word describes the experience here: atrocious! Easily the worst dim sum I have ever eaten anywhere in the world backed by terrible service. My girlfriend & I chose to come here because a 4 star TimeOut review isn’t anything to be snuffed at, but either things have gone waaaaay downhill since the original review or the reviewer didn’t know their arse from their elbow when it comes to good Chinese food!


Service

Well at least one thing hasn’t changed since the original review – the service. It was apathetic at best. It is also the first Chinese restaurant I’ve been to that didn’t have all Chinese wait-staff…give me their brusque but efficient service any day over the reluctant and lazy service we encountered.


Food

One of the things that initially attracted us here were some of the less common dim sum dishes on the menu. We ordered 6 different dishes and all of them were so flavourless and poorly executed I’m amazed they had Chinese chefs in the kitchen.  Seafood rolls with mango sauce – although not oily for a deep fried dish – were so bland and devoid of flavour it was something of a culinary miracle that it could have so little flavour of its constituent parts, and was in desperate want of better seasoning.  Even a simple King Prawn Cheung Fun was a bland, poor imitation of what you can get in even the shoddiest of Chinatown Yum Cha restaurants. Tai’Chi dumplings had some character, but again felt a little wanting for seasoning. The spicy Shanghai “Shui Jiao” dumplings – although spicy (especially for a Chinese dish and possibly too spicy for anyone who doesn’t love chilli like me) – were still a poor version of similar dishes at restaurants like Cha Cha Moon, with the spice masking most of the flavour of the filling. Pork & Chive dumplings were saved only by the vinegar dipping sauce condiment that came with them, and the pan-fried beef bun didn’t really taste of its component parts.  Asked for chilli sauce to help boost the dishes but even this was wishy-washy and devoid of any real spice - both the oil version and another that looked more like a watered down sweet chilli sauce than the usual, deep red paste style chilli sauce normally served at dim sum restaurants.

On the plus side, the blandness of the food indicates they probably don’t use any MSG, but the unquenchable thirst I had for hours afterward suggests otherwise. Perhaps the a la carte Chinese mains offer better flavours, but based off the dim sum experience we had today I’m not prepared to take that risk.


Décor

The only reason this restaurant even gets a star (aside from it being the minimum rating you can give here) is because it has pretty cool décor and layout…but choosing to eat at a restaurant because it has nice décor is like going to the British Museum just for the heating/air conditioning.This place would do far better as a club than a restaurant.


Value

They were running a 50% off all dim sum special when we were there (cash only). This should have been the first warning sign as anyone who does that on a weekend let alone a Sunday - the busiest yum cha day of the week - is clearly in trouble. Even though we only paid around £20 for our 6 dishes and a pot of tea (not including 12.5% service which was added but entirely undeserved) I couldn't help feeling that the meal still wasn't worth it because the food was so bad. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

andrew

The service was one the best i had. i was served by a waiter, he was very friendly and helpful.(guy from Nepal) but there was a guy who was very rude and manner less(guy with glass). the food was very good and enjoyed the night except the service from this guy with glass.

Maria M

I took my parents yesterday for lunch. They loved the Dim Sum and Duck with pancakes! Place is very nice and spacious and staff was friendly and helpful, specially the gentleman at reception (playing all the time with our daughter even she was being naughty, ha! I must also say there's one waiter (with glasses) he better get some more training on 'how to be polite'!! To sum up, excellent food very affordable with the offer on Saturdays (lunch) and Sundays (all day). You have to try!

Katie

I was very impressed with the decoration of Shanghai blues, rather trendy with an oriental touch. My impression of the restaurant went downhill as soon as my sister and I were seated. The manager called a staff to serve us and she called another staff, hence it took us a while to order the food. My har gau arrived within 15mins of ordering my food. But for some reason, it took them almost 30mins to bring out other food. When my turnip paste arived, it was cold. The restaurant was not packed and busy. No apology from staff when she told us they don't have anymore egg tarts and long wait for the food. You can definitely have more variety of food and much cheaper from a restaurant in chinatown. If you really want a nice dim sum lunch with nice atmosphere than Yauatcha would be more ideal. The decoration of the restaurant is 5*, shame the customer service is nowhere near it.

Scott

Did the Dim Sum "lesson". It's not really a lesson more a demonstration. Lesson was overbooked (40 people around a small table) People left because they couldn't see anything. After the lesson finished waited 90mins for a table due to deliberate overbooking. Had to badger waiters constantly to be served. Food was average. Service horrendous. Avoid avoid avoid.

Brett

Was impressed with the decor and the food was pretty good (Pearl Liang better though) but the real let down (and the reason we'll not return) is the very unfriendly and abrupt service.

Peter Herrington

My son and daughter-in-law had their wedding reception in this restaurant on the 31st March 2012. The staff were amazing, the food was fabulous and the service was first class. Nothing was too much trouble for them. We had looked at many hotel venues before deciding on a restaurant and I am so glad we did. One family of guests are determined to come back to London and stay overnight in a hotel in order to eat at Shanghai Blues! What better recommendation can you get than that!!!

Jason Tsang

We went here a few years ago and we were impressed by the quality of the food and the service. I thought it would be nice to come here for a family meal. Food is half price, so it seems to be a good deal. My initial impression this time round was not particular was not as positive. The staff weren't rude, but not particularly attentive. I didn't like the fact that we can only have the table for one and a half hours on a Sunday. It wasn't even busy. The food was pretty good, but missed dishes and spilt tea didn't help. They've been open for a while, so I'd expect then to get the basics right. I love the decor and Shanghai Blue promises so much. However, the reality is that it doesn't. There's room for improvement in all areas. Despite all that I've said, I'd still come again, because I've experienced worst.