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Sichuan Folk, 32 Hanbury Street, London

We were walking down to Hipster Town and lo and behold a brand new Sichuanese restaurant in London! Why have I not heard about this place before?

The management was very friendly, introduced us to the menu and gave us some good (although safe) alternatives to pick from.

We started with a selection of starters (clockwise from top sweet and sour spare ribs, walnut kernel with sesame, spiced beef soaked with soy sauce, green beans in a ginger sauce and in the middle Sichuan Folk special flavoured chicken). All great!

I also ordered a plate of smacked cucumber in a hot garlic sauce. Actually, not that hot, very pleasant.

Our first main course was mapo tofu, this was a really nice version. Perfect tofu, nice seasoning but could have used some more Sichuan pepper.

Special flavoured duck cooked with beer. I’m sorry to say but this dish was not nice. It was too dry and starchy, lacked flavours (nothing special about it). And I really disliked the use of bell peppers, why? I hope they wouldn’t have played safe with the dish, I am sure you can make it more authentic and bursting with flavours.

All in all, I might go here again if I would happen to be in Hipster Town. However, I might just go crazy with starters as these were really the highlights of the meal. Please pay them a visit and let me know what your thoughts are.

Sichuan Folk on Urbanspoon

 

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Vietnamese Restaurant, 34-36 Wardour Street, London

I was desperately hungry and found myself seated in this random Vietnamese restaurant in China Town called Vietnamese Restaurant. That, and the fact that I was ushered to an empty table by a member of staff wearing a cheap leather jacket, made me fully aware of what was to follow.

This was a mix meat Pho. Ok meats, the soup did not have much flavour and the noodles were boring.

Add some cilantro, lime, Thai basil and bird eye chillies and fish sauce and it gets a bit more exciting.

Deep-fried spring rolls. These were good, but you know, how can you even go wrong with this dish. All in all, not worth the visit if you are looking for a nice Vietnamese restaurant, does work if you want a cheap stomach filler. Plenty of those around in China Town, Vietnamese Restaurant is perhaps one of the less awful ones.

Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

Duck Tongues!

I know some people have been waiting for an update on these duck tongues. I had a quick dim sum lunch in one of the restaurants on Gerrard Street in China Town the other day (I really don’t remember which restaurant it was, they are all more or less the same).

Duck tongues, I’ve seen them on the menu at some other places before but I have been a bit hesitant to try them. I just think of Donald Duck and the big birds in Hyde Park and that has really put me off. It does not really help that I suffer from a minor bird phobia. Then again, having been served about 30 duck tongues, I was very happy as this meant that 30 birds are now in bird heaven! (There are no birds in my heaven, they go to a separate place where they can freely spread germs and sh*t all over the place).

Ok, so back to the food. The tongues were served cold on top of some pickled vegetables. They were cooked in an aromatic broth, the taste was a mix of Chinese spices including cassia bark, star anise, ginger and dark soy sauce. I’m quite sure that there was about 5-10 more spices in the sauce because it was really developed in flavour. The actual tongues were a bit tricky to eat as there is a piece of cartilage in the middle, like a bone but you could easily bite through the bone and crunch it down with the meat. I used the same technique as you would for a chicken wing, eat around the middle and leave the bone on the plate. The tongues had a pleasant texture, difficult to describe. Definitely not soft and slimy as you could imagine ( I did), more like dry and medium-soft. You have to try them for yourself, I definitely will again!

Wing Yip Superstore, 544 Purley Way, Croydon

When I arrived at Wing Yip Superstore in Croydon I almost started to cry. From having access to only limited Asian groceries back in Sweden (it was literally a shelf with the cheapest low-quality brands) I am now in London and I have full access to everything you can ever imagine!

The centre in Croydon is a very good one for stacking up on all the basic ingredients you might need. It is particularly good for cooking utensils and serving dishes. The range is really extensive, however, they tend to have a little of everything so if you are looking for variety and especially if you are only interested in Chinese food then I would suggest that you try one of the Chinese supermarkets in China Town. Having said that, I did manage to spend over £100 on all sort of wonderful stuff here!

This will give you an idea of what it looks like inside, it’s like an IKEA. This is the section for restaurants or people who eat like elephants, everything is in enormous bags and jars. There is also a regular supermarket section where you can spend hours browsing (if you’re a food junkie like me). Please pay Wing Yip a visit!

Chilli Cool, 15 Leigh St, London

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!

Chilli Cool on Urbanspoon

Bar Shu, 28 Frith Street, London

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!

Bar Shu on Urbanspoon

Centrepoint Sushi, 20 St Giles High St, London

Centrepoint Sushi is one of the restaurants just behind Centrepoint, the (ugly) landmark at the end of Oxford Street. There a few Korean restaurants in this area, one of which will be reviewed later. Ok, so Centrepoint Sushi is above a Japanese/Korean supermarket and we were hungry from and tempted to try some of their food.

The menu is a mix of Korean/Japanese/Chinese food. The food is actually quite expensive considering that this is not a fancy joint. I had some Kimchi Jigae, it was ok, but really nothing spectacular.

This was the Chirashi Sushi, I looked great and was good. Again, nothing spectacular and the rice was not the best. Why am I even saying stuff was ok? The service was great, I just remembered that. Shy Japanese girls, did not understand or speak much English. However, very polite and attentive.

Verdict: spend your money somewhere else. If the mains were -£2 then I might consider this one again, but not really at the rate they are charging today.

Centrepoint Sushi on Urbanspoon