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On first impression, the pepper and chilli beef looks like a humongous plate, but sadly most of the bulk is actually bean sprouts hidden under the beef. Still, the slices of beef were tender and the strongly flavoured sauce was not only tasty, but also masked the taste of the inevitable tenderiser.
The brinjal dish was ok without being fantastic in any particular way except for the amount of oil used to cook it. The Pigpig liked it though, happily drowned her rice in that tasty oily gravy.
Another deceptive large portion arrived in the form of deep fried spicy chicken, apparently a very typical Szechuan dish. With generous amounts of dried chillis and Szechuan peppers used, this really had my tongue burning in that strange way that kept me coming back for more. My only complaint is that some of the pieces of chicken used had some splinters in the bone, which made things interesting.
The only thing the PigPig wanted to try was the deep fried mantou (Chinese buns), mainly because she wanted to eat it with condensed milk. Think she secretly likes the spicy sweet combo after her sweet sesame mochi in mala soup experience in Taipei. The buns itself were already slightly sweet so this wasn't weird or anything, but I still do prefer eating them with the usual savoury dishes.
Lastly, we also ordered a fish, which came out quite a while after the previous dish for some unknown reason. The fish was quite good, no strong fishy smell and the spicy sweet-and-sour-like sauce was tasty, lacked any strong heat.
Altogether, the bill came to just under £15 each for four people. At first glance, the portion sizes look huge, but then most of the plate of beef was actually bean sprouts, and the chicken dish was about 80% chillies.
The taste of the food was how I like it, strong hitting and not pulling any punches whilst the level of heat was probably a little bit too low for my liking for proper Szechuan food (I'm guessing I have a pretty average spicy tolerance and I'm not a chilli-freak). That being said, for similar menus, prices and styles of cooking, Gourmet San is probably the better tasting one.
Best bit: not being chased out of the restaurant after finishing the meal. It's a really rare occasion for me to be able to sit and chat with buddies over cups of tea in a Chinese restaurant in London lately.
Worst bit: accidentally eating a Szechuan pepper, which happened more than once. A numb tongue is weird.
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.