You can read my article on the new Chinese regional restaurants in the Guardian here. I thought I’d use my blog to offer a bit more information.
So here are a few of the most interesting regional Chinese restaurants in London:
HUNAN: Local Friends (hu nan ren湖南人)
Chef Ren Jianjun, a native of Yueyang in northern Hunan Province used to work at the Shangri-La Hunan restaurant in Oriental City, Colindale. Ignore the entire front section of the menu and turn to the back, which is conspicuously RED because of all the chillies. Here you’ll find a wonderful selection of hearty Hunanese dishes which are among the most authentic in London.
Local Friends, 28 North End Road, Golders Green, NW11 7PT, 020 8455 9258
Local Friends, 132 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 6DG, United Kingdom
020 7729 9954
LIAONING (DONGBEI): ‘Top Taste’ (liao wei feng 辽味丰)
This miniscule restaurant on Roman Road seems a little confused about what its English name actually is: the sign outside merely says ‘Chinese restaurant and takeaway’, but the menu is emblazoned with ‘Top Taste’. Anyway, ignore the dishes you already know on the menu, and try to order the Liaoning dishes, which are marked with red stars on the menu: my top tip would be to look at what Chinese guests are eating and order some of those dishes. Apart from the dishes mentioned in the Guardian piece, we enjoyed the anise-scented ‘pork with vermicelli’, and the superb ‘pan-fried garlic chive pancake pockets’. Thanks to Kai Wang for telling me about this place!
‘Chinese Restaurant and Takeaway’ aka Top Taste (liao wei feng)
129 Roman Road, London, E2 0QN, 020 8980 2037
SHANGHAI: Bright Courtyard Club (huang ting 皇庭), Red Sun
Bright Courtyard Club has an excellent eclectic, pan-Chinese menu, as well as lunchtime Cantonese dim sum, but I go there for the Shanghainese food, which sadly is no longer listed separately, so you may have to ask for help. I recommend the magnificent ‘braised pork belly slices with preserved vegetable’, an inky stew of pork with umami-rich dried mustard and bamboo shoots; the Shanghai wontons served in a delectable broth; and ‘Shanghai tofu with mushrooms’ – a fermented gluten appetiser you’re unlikely to find on any other London menu. Red Sun has fewer interesting dishes, but I really love their stir-fry of green soybeans with pickled greens and slivered pork (‘shreds pork with chinese pickle soya bean’). Ask them for Shanghainese dishes.
Bright Courtyard Club, 43-45 Baker Street, London, W1U 8EW, 020 7486 6998
Red Sun, 2A New Quebec St, London W1H 7RD, 020 7723 5350
FUJIAN: Fuzhou (fu zhou 抚州)
Frustratingly, they don’t translate the Chinese names of many of their specialities here, but Joe, a young Fujianese waiter, speaks good English and has promised me that he’ll help curious diners navigate the menu. Ask him for the gorgeous fish balls (yu wan 鱼丸)– springy, cloudlike spheres of conger eel stuffed with minced pork and served in a light broth; glassy sweet potato noodles with mixed seafood (hai xian shu fen mian 海鲜薯粉面); cabbage and clam soup with slippery rice pasta (hai xian guo bian 海鲜锅边); or so-called ‘oyster fritters’ (hai li bing): traditionally made with a little oyster, here they are stuffed with a mix of pork, cabbage, beansprouts and celery. The sweet potato balls (fan shu wan 番薯丸) are also highly recommended.
Fuzhou, 34 Lisle St, London, WC2H 7BD, 020 3214 0088
GUIZHOU: Maotai Kitchen (nong jia da yuan农家大院): Many interesting Guizhou dishes from which to choose.
Maotai Kitchen, 12 Macclesfield Street W1D 5BP, 020 7437 8785
SICHUAN: Sichuan folk (ba shu ren jia巴蜀人家)
Sichuan Folk is not mentioned in my article, but it’s one of the best new Sichuan restaurants. You can read Jay Rayner’s review of it here.
Sichuan Folk, 32 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR, 020 7247 4735