My boyfriend & I came here for Chinese New Year to celebrate the year of the horse! If I'm being honest, we came here because a different restaurant was all booked up for the evening. We took a look on yelp and saw that this place was around the corner.
I really liked my experience here. The staff is relatively small and were very busy due to the new year. The menu was relatively small compared to most asian restaurants. We ordered Salt & Pepper Squid and Boiled Dumplings with Chilli Oil as our appetisers. For our mains we shared Chicken Wings with Dried Chillies and Homestyle Tofu in Chilli Oil. Thankfully we also ordered plain rice because we ordered so many chilli dishes!
I thought the Salt and Pepper Squid and Dumplings were delicious! I really enjoyed both of them and thought they were a good portion for sharing. My favourite dish was definitely the Homestyle Tofu. The sauce was really tasty and it mixed well with the rice.
I did not like the chicken wings with dried chillies. The wings are chopped up into small bits with the bones still inside, deep fried and then tossed in a mountain of dried chillies. They were difficult to eat and you didn't get very much chicken, so your mouth is just full of spice but no flavour. I would only recommend this dish if you really LOVED hot hot food, but I bet there are plenty of other Sichuan dishes on the menu that would be much more balanced and flavourful.
Overall, the staff were very friendly, the atmosphere was nice and I had a nice night out. I would for sure come again to try some new dishes! Happy Chinese New Year! x
There's certainly no finesse about the bulk of the menu, or the majority of the delivery. It's perfunctory, acceptable and seemingly well done generic Chinese. Where it differs however, and why it demanded a visit, was the Sichuan specialities on the menu. The default starter of aromatic duck was pumped. Tasty, well cooked and enormously proportioned (if perhaps not enough crispy skin for my liking). This was a big bit of Donald for a great value £6.40. Freshly prepped veggies too, rather than the fridge freezing soggy pot of cucumber and spring onion you can often encounter. When done well I've got no problem with the well-known dishes many of us Brits grew up with, but I'm always going to take a punt on something different when on offer, particularly when spice, chilli or weird texture combinations are integral.
They have a good thirty or so Sichuan specialities clustered at the back of the menu, my strong advice is to start here, get some rice if you must but don't look any further. Forgive the Chinglish translations and some of the less thrilling descriptions. Saliva Chicken (stop tittering at the back) translates into Mouthwatering Chicken, an allusion to the sensation the peppercorns give your tastebuds, rather than the main ingredients! If I'm honest, none of it sounds great on the page, but I'm going back on a weekly basis until I've tried it all, so that should tell you something. Also of glorious note were the Fried Aubergine with Minced Pork, a dense gravy-like broth slow cooking the aubergines to fall apart completeness, the bite then coming from the succulent pork.
This place arrived on the high street in the wake of Silk Road, which means Camberwell had already had its appetite whetted for exotic fare from different parts of China than the usual Cantonese - often with off-putting, frankly unpalatable names. "Saliva chicken" is possibly the worst offender in this regard. I have no idea why it's called "saliva chicken" and I have no desire to find out, but I HAVE tried it, and it IS excellent. I didn't get to try the shredded pigs' ear, which was sadly unavailable when we went, and I'll have to get round to the duck's tongue with chili oil (or even the vegetarian options like "smacked cucumber in hot garlic sauce"). Chili oil abounded, in fact - seems the ol'Sichuanese like it spicy!
The décor here is much more old-school "we're going out for dinner" than Silk Road's more pared-back, canteen-y shtick, and they're also open for lunch. Service was excellent - our waitress seemed concerned that any over-adventurousness in ordering would result in us never returning. So the lamb and beancurd hotpot came with the warning - if you don't really like lamb that much, order something else! It will taste strongly of lamb!! (It did, and that was good.) So we now have Sichuan AND Xinjiang specialists on our high street. This can only be a good thing.
Lovely ambience, very friendly and attentive staff. however, the food was pretty bad. I ordered the Kung Po chicken which is always my ultimate test to a Chinese restaurant's authenticity. And it was awful! Breaded chicken in a sweet and sour sauce that had some chili in it. And i am pretty sure some ketchup too.
The aromatic duck on the other hand was excellent, but would not convince me to go again.
As another reviewer has mentioned, the majority of the menu is the standard Chinese options, but I will say they are done well. The atmosphere is good for the evening as the restaurant has tinted windows and might be too dark for a lunch spot. The prices are right and the portions are huge. Definitely recommend for locals who don't want to cook and don't want to go too far for a good, cheap meal.
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