Chinese dumplings and noodles a stone’s throw away from London Bridge
Dim Sum addicts usually head to Chinatown or Soho for their fix, but for people who live just south of the river there’s another option in the form of Tuli. Even though it’s just a few doors down from London Bridge station on Tooley Street, few of my dining companions had ever heard of it so I decided to give the place a go with the aid of the Euro Hedgie, Rodan and Gamera.
The interior at Tuli seems cavernous due to the high ceiling which is oddly illuminated by a series of large florescent lights underneath partially opaque panels. The lighting is therefore quite bright and harsh which is unattractive in of itself – combined with the annoying flicker of one of the lights it’s positively hideous.
Will those giant ##@*#& lights ever stop flickering?
Although some may like the decor, I found it to be quite garish and quite tasteless. The jarring coloured walls and lanterns in the main dining room look restrained and tasteful compared to the lobby/bar which, although less offensively lit, resembles a hotel reception designed by an epileptic with a cruel sense of humour. It should come as no surprise that there is a karaoke room available for hire.
Is ‘Tuli’ a play on words? Tuli = Tooley Street?
While I obviously hated the look of Tuli, much of the food didn’t elicit anything resembling a strong emotion from my taste buds or stomach. Both the seafood fried udon and the beef ho fun noodles were surprisingly grease-free yet had firm, well-cooked noodles. The beef served with the ho fun noodles is tender, but tastes unremarkable, while the ragbag meagre selection of seafood included with the udon had probably seen the inside of a freezer in the past 24 hours. I wasn’t expecting much from these £8 each noodle dishes, and that’s what I got – not much.
Beef ho fun noodles
Udon noodles with seafood
Taro dumplings tend to be one of the most interesting of the deep fried dim sum dishes. The distinctive-looking shell is crispy yet fluffy, just as it should be, although the pork filling is rather bland and adds a disappointing finish to an otherwise interesting dumpling. The weirdly amorphous, bland and rubbery fishcake-type patties aren’t worth having though.
Even though Tuli was almost empty on the day of our visit, the restaurant had already run out of cheung fun, one of the most enjoyable steamed dim sum dishes. There were plenty of steamed dumplings though, including the classic prawn, the peanut and pork and the prawn and chive. The fillings were unremarkable and could actually have benefitted from a dosage of MSG, although the thin, translucent, supple yet sturdy skins were adeptly made and went down nicely.
The classic king prawn dumpling never goes out of fashion.
Not everything at Tuli was disappointing or unremarkable though. The lotus leaf rice, a dish of sticky glutinous rice steamed in lotus leaves, was done well. The slices of pork scattered through the rice parcel were especially enjoyable with their streaks of fatty saltiness complimenting the sticky, slightly sweet taste of the rice. The stir fried bok choy vegetables were also quite enjoyable – not too oily, yet it managed to retain a nutty flavour presumably derived from the cooking oil.
The food at Tuli is by no means bad, it’s merely average and deeply unremarkable. If you’re new to dim sum, then it’s an inexpensive and friendly place to discover it (and certainly a damn sight better than the deplorable Ping Pong chain of restaurants), but more discerning dim sum fans should head elsewhere.
Address: 72-74 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TF
Phone: 0207 407 4883
Opening Hours: seven days a week midday-22.00
Reservations: yeah, if you want.
Total cost for one person including soft drink and tip: approx. £15