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Jul 25, 2008 01:25 AM

Gourmet-San (Szechuan-Bethnal Green Road)

Had a really enjoyable meal at this place last night and wondered if anyone else had tried it

Tiny room, packed by 8pm with people queuing out of the door

Huge plates of meaty crab, not over powered with peppercorns and chilli, beef tendon and lung, pigs feet braised in vinegar and, best of all, Szechuan BBQ skewers that really reminded me of what I ate in Chengdu. Rabbit ( different pricing for front and back legs) Lamb, lambs kidney, cumin dusted quail, seafood.

Meal for two with four beers was £50, but we ate a huge amount

Worth a try

Gourmet San
261 Bethnal Green Rd
London, E2 6AH, United Kingdom
+44 20 76131366

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  1. This is my first post, but I felt compelled to reply, as I have been to this place a few times now, and I have really enjoyed it.

    I thought the skewers were lovely (especially the Xianjian lamb - apologies if my spelling is incorrect). I also liked the fish in spicy broth - the sichuan peppercorns had enough of the wonderful numby feeling to really give it some zing. I also enjoyed the experience of fishing my dinner out of a bowl with a little wire mesh net.

    The tofu braised with meat was good, belly pork was not the best thing I've ever eaten, but was tasty. The aubergines were great, though incredibly rich, and lacquered in a way reminiscent of toffee apples. The best thing for me though is the celery with peanuts. I think I could probably eat far too much of this if left to my own devices.

    On another note, Simon, I really enjoy the blog - have been reading for a while!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sharmila

      Thank you

      I saw all those dishes you mentioned coming out and I will definitely return to try them


    2. I visited the place shortly after the new owners came in. I tucked into some Sichuan options from the Chinese language menu. The kebabs were particularly good, the other dishes less so. So, I decided not to write them up but did tell them to translate their menu into English which they later did. And since then I've been unable to visit due to the long queues waiting...! Sounds like the food has improved too.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Ian

        yah i've been here + started a thread abt it but sadly i didnt have too much to say since i hadnt eaten any other szechuan food. but i really liked it! and yes it's v affordable. altho man the service every time i've gone has been super grumpy.

        1. re: t_g

          Yes there was a thread on here about it a while back, brilliant food, pity about the hygiene standards was the distilled essence.

          1. re: Iestyn Morgan

            going to be reviewed in the observer this week, and they wont even let them take a photo!

      2. I recently went back to Gourmet San, and tried a few different dishes from the menu. We had the whole fish in oyster sauce with, curiously, peas in the sauce (which were tasty). Maybe not the freshest fish in the world, but overall, the dish was very tasty and we did eat all of it. The dry fried green beans were good, though I have had better renditions of this elsewhere. The skewers were once again very good.

        1. Was walking down Middlesex Street on the eastern edge of the city today, and passed a medium sized nondescript chinese joint called My Old Place. The remarkable thing was, that instead of displaying menus, or any other information in the window, they had multiple copies of Gourmet San's Observer review. Can anyone explain? The place was closed, so couldn't inquire myself

          1 Reply
          1. re: skut

            found this from googling, looks like it's the same owners?:

            In the City 'My Old Place' 88 Middlesex Street (part of Petticoat lane Market - they also have a branch on Bethnal Green road a mile north of this) is the most authentic chinese we've come across - it's really like eating in Beijing, for better and for worse. Two menus, one for westerners, very much in the minority, and another for the chinese. The food, 'Northeastern cuisine' - ie Sichuan/Beijing is nothing like eating in a traditional westernised place in Chinatown. When they say 'spicey' they really mean it.

          2. Finally visited this joint today, and I had been looking forward to it for quite a while. Arrived very early (5pm) to avoid the throng. All in all, a great feed, and 3 of us shared various things:

            Started with ox tendon in oil, which was a cold dish. Very flavoursome, with garlic, sesame oil (im not sure if there were other oils involved) and coriander. The tendon was fairly soft but still chewy. The fried crab with chilli was great, if a bit greasy (we did kind of OD on it) the szechuan peppers did their thing.
            BBQ Lamb skewers for me were the star of the show.. A fantastic grilled flavour on the tender meat and beautifully spiced. Everyone else in the place ordered these, so these are the must have on the menu. BBQ's lambs kidney's followed, but didnt quite live up to the lamb.

            Ma Po Doufu was fairly decent . Was hardly any meat in there, and it could have been a bit more spicy if i'm being honest. Very oil heavy (as it should be) and tofu was a nice consistency, meaning it was pretty hard to eat with the chinese plastic chopsticks.

            Broccoli with Scallops was more of a bog standard offering, but executed well. The broccoli was firm and crisp, and the relative blandness of the dish gave respite from the other oil / salt / flavour rich dishes.

            Finshed off with another lamb skewer (irresistable) and a bbq squid, covered in chilli bean paste. Loads of other delicious looking dishes came out to other diners which i'll have to try again in future. I'm quite keen to delve deeper into their offal offerings - things like the dry fried pork intestines look interesting.

            All in all, I was very impressed by the genereosity of the portions, and it is very good value for money. Good to go with a big group and share lots of dishes. Would certainly help if the group are adventurous eaters, as HK style sweet and sour pork and chicken chow mein are absent from the menu.

            3 Replies
            1. re: foreignmuck

              I went here fairly recently, and while I enjoyed it, it was a bit of a mixed bag. The rabbit was a definite disappointment - very dry and not particularly appetising, and I can make a much better kung pao chicken and Ma Po Doufu at home. I enjoyed the lamb skewer, but wouldn't rave about it. What I really loved was the cold noodle dish, the slapped cucumber and, especially, the enormous plate of crunchy, tender crab.

              1. re: greedygirl

                Went here last week and had a good meal. Still up to a decent standard. The Beef with Cumin was full of heat and flavour, a real winner. Crispy sweet and sour pork was not my choice, but did the job. Pig intestines and sliced welk was fantastic, picking up the flavour of the whole cloves of garlic which studded the dish. The lamb kebabs were also up to standard, but I thought the kidney was a little bland in seasoning, and my friend ordered a king prawn kebab - and a solitary prawn arrived on its own.

                With beers it was 40 quid with tip and well worth it. Also, we went at 6.30ish and got a table straight away. The service was good: pleasant, polite and swift.

                1. re: alexdz

                  Went back again on saturday. Had the Old Place style crispy chilli crab which was amazing. Szechuan peppercorns, chillis, peanuts, and crab in a light batter. I think I ate more of the shell than you are supposed to but it was good eating. With that (and being as there were only 2 of us) we had broccoli and scallops which was fine, and kung po pork intestine. I thought the kung po was ok but the sauce was very very oily, and lacked flavour. i wouldnt order that again, but the crab was good. all the portions were huge. the rice is a bit dry and rubbish though. we also had a couple of lamb skewers which were really good as usual. you cant beat them at 1 pound a pop.

                  they also deliver to my house (e14) which is very good news. I went away with a copy of the takeaway menu and will be calling them soon. I'd like to try the stewed potato, pepper, and aubergine.