Monday: 253 Lisburn Road, Belfast. Tel: 028 90381655
IT may be a former stalwart of Belfast’s foodie scene, but Shu has never rested on his laurels.
While the pandemic has sadly decimated much of our hospitality industry, the Lisburn Road restaurant has used the lockdown to undergo a £1million redevelopment and refurbishment.
The result is a lively new restaurant at BT9 where you can easily spend the night eating and drinking.
The food speaks for itself, and it’s no wonder that some of chef Brian McCann’s dishes, such as salt and chili squid, make it on many people’s lists (including mine) of some of the best dishes on any Northern Irish menu.
Shu was packed when I arrived on a Tuesday evening, adding to the feel-good factor.
It now has three distinct spaces under one roof: the main restaurant on the ground floor, which has been extended; the Upper Room on the first floor, which hosts private parties and weddings; and Jul’s restaurant and cocktail bar in the basement, which doubles as a gallery to showcase the work of local artists.
Dining in the main restaurant, we chose two of Shu’s signature entrees that have become social media sensations – salt and chili squid and Korean chicken with gochujang sauce.
The fermented sweet and spicy chilli sauce paired with the crispy fried chicken was outstanding.
If you haven’t already heard of Shu squid on the street, where have you been? Very good food. Tender squid in a crispy, spicy coating is served with three perfectly matched sauces – sweet chilli, wasabi and soy and ginger mayonnaise.
Then for the main course there were two more substantial plates of food. For me it was a superb blade of beef slow cooked in horseradish sourdough breadcrumbs with mushroom ketchup and potato croquette on the side. The meat melted in your mouth and fell apart on first contact with a fork. The breadcrumbs added both a crispy texture and extra flavor, along with the spiciness of the horseradish. It was good comfort food on a wet and windy February night.
On the other side of the table, my son feasted on a roast rump and a shoulder of lamb simmered with creamy potatoes, mashed chestnuts, roasted parsnips and truffle honey. The lamb was perfectly pink, with the different cuts adding real depth of flavor.
As a side, we shared wonderful winter greens (including broccoli and cabbage) tossed in a lemon and black pepper dressing.
My main course was such a feast that I couldn’t order myself a dessert, so we shared a chocolate fondant with orange sorbet and almond praline. The chocolate oozed out of the middle as soon as the spoon touched the sponge. Really sensational.
The service was top notch. While some places have suffered in this area lately, Shu has retained loyal employees who know the menu, its dishes and its wines inside out. They really go the extra mile to make the dining experience special. Brian in particular couldn’t have been more helpful.
Co-owner Alan Reid said he wanted Shu to be the kind of destination restaurant you’d see in London or New York. Do yourself a favor and make this your next foodie destination.
Squid with salt and chilli£10.50
Korean fried chicken£9
Roast rump and stewed shoulder of lamb£23