There’s no shortage of budget chop suey joints in Shepherd’s Bush, but to find a proper Chinese restaurant serving more than the usual takeaway food is a challenge. Hidden around a corner off Uxbridge Road, a short walk from Shepherd’s Bush Market tube station, this unassuming Sichuan venue is easy to miss.
Crowds, mostly of mainland Chinese diners, fill its spacious interior in the evening, when a cosy atmosphere is produced by dark wooden furniture and the fragrance of sichuan peppercorns. The signature dish (which most diners choose) is the classic Sichuan tongue-numbing mala hotpot buffet. There’s also a lengthy à la carte, mainly of south-western Chinese dishes, with a small dim sum selection. Prices are reasonable, and portions generous and uncompromising on chilli heat. Our ‘water-boiled’ fish came in a pot of fiery broth, topped with a layer of sizzling hot chilli oil and dried chillies.
Equally appetising but non-spicy dishes include Hunan-style red braised pork belly and stir-fried green beans. The availability of uncommon ingredients such as frogs’ legs, sea snails and loofah make Tian Fu quite different to anything else in the area. Singular too is the odd combination of a stained-glass window depicting Paris, and Taylor Swift playing on the sound system.