It’s been ages since my last update! I’ve had a lot of very nice food recently, but all the pictures have turned out dark so no use posting them here. The thing is that I’m waiting for Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc to be released here in the UK, should be any day soon. Apparently, it has a really nice camera and I’ve been waiting for a decent camera phone. So, hopefully more updates with better pictures soon.
Ok, Red N Hot should seriously consider putting me on their payroll because I eat here a lot. I think it’s such a nice restaurant, the food is perhaps a bit heavy but the flavours are great. Tried some new stuff this time around.
Good old pork dumplings, these are delicious.
These are cumin spiced king prawns. I’ve had this twice I think. Really flavourful prawns, loads of cumin, Sichuan pepper and chilli. Such a nice dish! I just eat the prawns shell on, love these bastards!
Slices of pig’s ear in sesame oil. This was actually good, although a bit starchy. The ear was crunchy, thinly sliced and heavily seasoned with sesame. Would definitely try pig’s ear again, perhaps in a different dish.
Here you have, if I remember correctly, boiled beef and beef tripe. This really looks alien! The taste was great! Aromatic, tender meat and a good crunch in the tripe. You really have to not think about what you are eating, it can be a challenge. Great food though!
I have walked past Dong San on Poland Street many times, stopped and looked at the menu and then run away at the sight of all the plastic sushi, sashimi and kimchi on display in the window. However, having read some positive reviews about this place, I decided to give it a go. Actually, I have been here twice now as the food turned out to be very, very good!
Raw beef sashimi! This is so tasty, the beef, cucumber and pear all cut identically, blended together with egg yolk and sugar and sesame oil. I could eat 100 portions of this stuff, perfect!
Kimchi Pancakes, perfectly crispy on the outside and nice and moist on the inside. Love the taste of these pancakes.
I have a soft spot for mackerel. This was a grilled mackerel, seasoned with some lemon and salt. Very, very good. Once again, I could have easily had more of this.
Finally, spicy squid with cucumber and onions and some other vegetables. This was also a cold dish, the portion is huge. I really loved this, I also recommend trying the same dish with whelk.
I must say that Dong San has positively surprised me on both visits and I will be going back very soon. I have no idea what the sushi and sashimi tastes like, to be honest I don’t even know why they bother doing this. I think it might be for lunch guests to make some money, so I forgive them. Please pay them a visit and let me know what you think!
This is the second (or third) time I write about Red ‘n’ Hot on this blog. It is one of the Sichuanese restaurants in London that I visit on a regular basis. They consistently serve good quality Sichuanese food and they keep it authentic, if it says spicy it is spicy and no bell peppers or other random vegetables here. It’s always packed with (young) Chinese people, not perhaps the most cosiest and romantic of restaurants – then again, who needs romance when you can have Sichuan pepper?
Here’s pictures of some of the food I have had there this autumn.
Hot and sour vermicelli soup. This is an interesting and very tasty dish, I love the dried soy beans (I think it’s soy beans) that they top this soup with.
Dan Dan Noodles. This is very different from the other Dan Dan Noodles you get in London,the noodles are thinner and it’s more mild.
Here we have the same noodles, this time cold served in a hot and sour cold broth (under the noodles). This is topped with cucumbers and sugar! Mix it together and enjoy. Love the vinegar on this one!
Pork Dumpling with Chili Oil, very nice and tender.
Wonton noodles in chicken broth, these are so soft and velvety, lovely!
Water cooked pork, a favourite of mine. This comes in a very spicy and flavourful broth (not a broth really). Generous amount of Sichuan peppers and chillies. I really love this!
Mapo Tofu. There is something with this dish that makes me go crazy. The tofu, the leek and the minced pork in the very spicy sauce. I LOVE MAPO TOFU! I’d have children with mapo tofu, I’m not sure it’s possible though.
I’d love to be in a Chinese kitchen to see how they prepare their fish because it is so different from what you would get in any fish restaurant. Extremely soft, delicate but yet firm. The fish is always expensive (£15+), you do get a decent amount though. This was a white fish served with some green leaves and tomato skins. Wonderful!
Soho has so many wonderful (and cheap) Asian restaurants, Taro most certainly belongs to this category. This is a Japanese restaurant with an extensive menu, here you can get your sushi, ramen, sashimi or yakitori or whatever you might fancy.
We started with a selection of pickles, great flavours and a nice crunchy texture.
How can you not order Gyoza? These were perfectly cooked, really nice!
When it comes to Asian soups I really have a weak spot for Ramen. This was a shoyu ramen, a selection of nice and fresh vegetables, black cloud mushrooms and some fish cakes. The noodles were really nice and the broth excellent! One of the best ramens I’ve tried in London this year.
Chicken Ramen, a meatier and more bold version. A great mix of bean sprouts, spring onions, seaweed and chicken. Loved it!
Taro is actually part of a chain (ok, they have three restaurants in London so I’m not sure if you would call it a chain). This is the Brewer Street restaurant, not sure about the other two but I will definitely be going back here! I love ramen!
I’m back, sorry for the wait! Last night we had a fabulous hot pot at Chilli Cool, the restaurant I reviewed earlier on this summer. They provided us with unlimited ingredients for the hot pot. Look at this picture, ridiculous amounts of food!
Under the pile of meat (beef, pork and lamb) we had fresh white fish, prawns, crab, Chinese sausage, bean curd sticks, frozen spongy tofu, crab sticks, straw mushrooms, cloud mushrooms, sea kelp, vermicelli noodles, Chinese leaves, cabbage, potatoes. The actual hot pot (forgot to take one as I got carried away with eating) was a half spicy / half white soup, great flavours and a seasoned to perfection with Sichuan spices.
When we had finished the stuff above we asked for some more meat and fish, the waitress brought us a new plate with everything! We were struggling to manage to eat everything, so much food! I must say that this was the best hot pot I’ve had so far – definitely coming back! I love Chilli Cool – now on my top pick list!
God bless Bar Shu! I have always wanted to go to this restaurant, the original (and most expensive) of the trio of restaurants that Fuchsia Dunlop consults for. Once again, God bless this place! I’m getting religious…
So, the place itself is very nice. Spacious, nice decoration and attentive staff. The menu is extensive and has anything a Sichuan food junkie like me could wish for. One of the dishes, in addition to Mapo Tofu, that I always order to compare restaurants is Shui Zhu Niu Rou (boiled beef slices in extremely hot sauce). This is also one of my favourite Sichuan dishes as it really demonstrates the great flavours of Sichuan food.
Here is Bar Shu’s take on Shui Zhu Niu Rou.
The camera and the light does not really do the dish justice because this was the best thing I have had for a very long time. Perfectly seasoned, great tender meat and very spicy. I loved it!
We also ordered a steamed sea bass with ginger and spring onions. The waitress removed the head and bones before I took the picture but here you have it.
This fish was amazing. So tender, perfectly cooked and the seasoning was light and delicate. I really enjoyed it, probably the best fish I have had in a very long time.
Bar Shu is officially my favourite restaurant in London and I will be going back very soon!
Look at this wonderful food!
I was really hoping that the stuff they serve at Chilli Cool would be hot, spicy and flavourful and it was! I visited between lunch and dinner, so the place was actually empty. This is always risky, the head chef might take a break and leave a junior chef in charge. I do not know who was in the kitchen, but the food was just great.
I had Shui Zhu Niu Rou, or water-cooked beef. This is something I really like, a great mix of beef and vegetables (usually bean sprouts and leeks) in a very hot and fragrant broth. The portion was huge, probable enough for two people. I ate it all by myself in less than 15 minutes, it was just perfect. I am most definitely going back very soon. They had an impressive menu and I really liked the place! Might end up on my top pick list very soon.
Since writing the previous review, I have actually revisited Baozi Inn twice! I like their central London location, the service is always fast and the prices are very reasonable.
I wanted to try some more of their soups, they actually have quite many on the menu.
Here you have Bbq spare ribs noodle soup, very dark and rich in colour and flavour. Definitely worth trying!
This was one of their house specialities, Sichuan spicy noodle soup. To be honest, the soup was not at all spicy and it was very oily so you would be mad to finish the dish. The flavours were ok, but nothing spectacular.
Mapo Tofu! It was served on top of a very generous serving size of rice and came with a small chicken soup (picture below). The flavours were all there and I really liked that they had sprinkled loads of ground Sichuan pepper on top of it. It was perhaps a bit dry if I were to criticise something, however, a great dish!
Finally, pork baozi. A bun with a great lump of pork in the middle. Actually really nice and a good way of filling your stomach! You are not given any cutlery to eat the bun, sorry for the bite marks on the bun.
* Update 10/08/26 *
Today I visited Baozi Inn again. I had two dishes; one pork/spicy noodle and one sour-hot tofu side dish. I really DISLIKED the food today, it had no taste and it was just bland. I might stay away from the place for a couple of months and see how things develop. It is definitely not on my top picks list any more.
Time for a great Chinese budget alternative in China Town. Baozi Inn, the street food alternative to Bar Shu and Ba Shan, serves a mix of noodle, soup and regional signature dishes. The place itself is not fancy, but the service is great! We really find everything on the menu to be interesting and the prices were extremely reasonable (£6 for main courses). There were also a number of nice starters and side orders to pick from.
We started off with egg baozi. The dough was delicious, the filling was vegetables (a lot of leek) and egg. The taste was fantastic and I would strongly recommend trying these.
The first main course was Chengdu Dan Dan Noodles. They came in bowl on top of some spicy broth, with minced pork and greens to mix it all in. I loved this dish, the noodles had a perfect texture and were full of flavour.
In the second main course, the noodles were in a aromatic soup. Topped with cilantro, greens and beef; this was a warm and filling soup. Great colours and great flavours.
I will most definitely be going back to Baozi Inn, they had so many things on the menu that I want to try out. Please pay them a visit and enjoy the nice food!
OMG OMG OMG!
This was the best food ever, God bless Ba Shan! Let all of his angels protect this place from all things bad that is known to happen to mankind.
Look at the insane amount of Sichuan chili on this first cold starter. Awesome! OMG, this was so good that I am turning into an American shouting awesome at stuff. Seriously, look at it. There’s about 203234 chillies in this dish. In addition, there was a generous amount of gorgeous Sichuan peppers in the mix.
Voila! Here you have the dish itself. Cold, thinly sliced pork kidney and cucumber. Outrageously tasty. This was my first time having cold kidney and I have to say that it was just great.
Pork dumplings, definitely made from scratch. The dough was supreme, the Sichuanese dip sauce was amazing.
Mapo tofu, what a joy. This had the perfect balance of flavours and is officially on my top 3 list (I’m making one as we speak).
Ba Shan, very good value for the money you pay. Not cheap, but not as expensive as Bar Shu across the street. I loved Ba Shan! I want to throw money at them and hope that they will be successful forever and ever. Please use the link below to get some more information about the restaurant, read reviews and see the menu in more detail. Urbanspoon rocks!
In Sichuan Cookery, Mrs Fuschia Dunlop writes the following about this wonderful dish.
“Ma po dou fu is named after the smallpox-scarred wife of a Qing Dynasty restaurateur. She is said to have prepared this spicy, aromatic, oily dish for labourers who laid down their loads of cooking oil to eat lunch on their way to the city’s market. It’s one of the most famous Sichuan dishes, and epitomizes Sichuan’s culinary culture, with its fiery peasant cooking and bustling private restaurants”
I love mapo tofu, it is by far one of my most favourite meals. There are a few key ingredients to this dish.
The tofu, it shold not be too soft or too hard. Actually, the one I used, was a bit too hard but it worked out fine. Where I currenyly live, God do not bless this place, there is only one variety to be found so I had not option. Anyway, the first step is to cut the tofu into chunks and boil it for a few minutes in salted water.
Normal white refined sugar, beef cut into thin and short slices, spring onions and Sichuanese chili bean paste. There are a variety of these around, however, try to find one that says Pixian Dou Ban and is from Sichuan. It took me about 1 year to do so in Stockholm, good luck hunting!
On the plate you have ground Sichuanese chillies (no other variety really works), black fermented beans and roasted Sichuan pepper. The chili paste is also pictured here.
Start of with heating about half a cup of oil until it turns extremely hot. Then add the beef and let it fry for a couple of minutes until it crispy and a little brown.
Turn the heat to medium and add the chili bean paste, fry for about 30 seconds and the oil turns red.
Add the black fermented beans and ground chillies.
Pour in some stock and add the tofu. Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the spring onions, Sichuan pepper, sugar, some light soy sauce, salt to taste.
Finally, add a mix of potato flour and water to the dish and push around gently so that the tofu gets covered.
Mapo tofu is easy to make, however, you need all the authentic ingredients or you will not be able to produce a good version of it at home. I love mapo tofu! Enjoy bitches!