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Dec 14, 2008 12:42 PM

Super Star, Chinatown, London

Excellent handmade north eastern Chinese dumplings/shui3 jiao3, firm but tender skin, not mushy but very moist, with just the right amount of bite. There's 2 versions both very well seasoned - pork or prawns (sweet, fresh) with bits of water chestnut. Liked them more than the ones I had at Jen Cafe, but have only tried each version once. Would be great to hear more comparisons.

The hand pulled noodles, while not super springy, do have a good stiff texture. A solid rendition of zha2 jiang4 mian4, a NE Chinese noodle dish cloaked in a sauce made from salty, savoury fermented bean pasta, minced pork and faint background of chilli.

Very good egg custard tarts - flaky light pastry, dense rich eggy custard.

Sweet fresh-tasting crab mince mingled with minced pork and sharksfin fill a big dumpling in soup wrapped in a delicate and very thin dumpling skin. The clarity of chicken in the consomme is exceptional -- very elegant flavour. A supple bit of Chinese broccoli tip also balances softness and vegetal crunch.

Dry fried eel was very well rendered - scored with a knife on one surface so that the small pieces of filleted eel would curl upon cooking. Excellent technique, the eel burnished and crispy on the surface, and deeper down the flesh retaining that perfect level of gelatinous chewiness, rather than just softness in lesser versions. Beneath that, a sweetened soy sauce enhanced with aromatic caramelised garlic that also lingers on the crispy surface of the eel. Great eel flavour, fresh and clean, without any trace of muddiness.

Apparently they have 3 chefs in the kitchen, from Sichuan, Hubei and Fujian or Canton iirc. Yet to sample the sichuan dishes. They serve dim sum at lunch. The dumpling and noodle guy was off on a thursday, so no dumplings or hand pulled noodles that day.

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  1. hey i know this place, i was going to eat there last visit, but ate elsewhere on the strip. the name sure caught my eye!

    i was thinking of chinatown for a guaranteed christmas eve dinner & your mention of hand pulled noodles definately grabbed my attention.

    btw limster i have been in xi'an heaven inhaling liang pi in flushing, queens for lunch lately...but i dont want you in tears so i wont say anymore about that here... ;)

    7 Replies
    1. re: mrnyc

      liang pi? Is that "2 skins" aka liang3 zhang1 pi2 - mung bean noodle sheets with a variety of meats and vegetables and a mustard sauce? (You know how it is with all the naming variants that different places use, hard to figure out without a description sometimes.) I've seen that on the menus at some of the Korean places in the area, as NE Chinese dishes tend to cross the border; but still need to try them.

      Gotten pretty excited about a Northern Chinese place in Rotherhithe when I looked at their menu last week, but haven't had a chance to try yet, just too much to do!

      BTW, what was the place you tried in Chinatown? Love to hear more, as there aren't many reports, many thanks!

      1. re: limster

        Further to your post about the place in Rotherhithe, I went to a restaurant on Camberwell Church Street recently called Silk Road. It caught my eye as the signage says they specialise i Xin Jiang (excuse if my spelling is wrong, this is from memory!) cuisine. Having had the kebabs at Gourmet San, I thought I would check it out. Anyway, it was pretty good. Not earth shattering, but lots of nice, hearty winter food. I had big plate chicken which was very tasty, and they also brought out homemade, thick, wide noodles to dunk on the plate after and mop up the sauce. The boiled dumplings were tasty, and there was also a lovely dish of pork with black fungus. Anyway, there was enough there to tempt me to go back soon.

        I spoke to the waiter and he said they used to have a restaurant around Surrey Quays/Rotherhithe, but have since moved to this location about 6 months ago.

        1. re: Sharmila

          I'm really interested in this as Church St runs along the bottom of my road. Would love to know whereabouts it is - is it past the Hermits Cave towards Peckham? Been looking for a decent local Chinese to avoid the trek up the Walworth Rd to Dragon's Castle (which seems a little tired these days...)

          1. re: SpikeyD

            SpikeyD, I think it is at 49 Camberwell Church Street. On the opposite side of the street to the Hermits Cave, before you get to the town hall. It was chock full of people eating the big plate chicken when I went.

            1. re: Sharmila

              This must be age creeping up on me - I googled the restuarant, and got a picture of the frontage, but I really couldn't place it at all... Still, i'm having a day off on my birthday next week, so I think a trip to locate it is on the cards. I'll report back.

          2. re: Sharmila

            That's awesome, I'd love to check out this Xinjiang place. Many thanks for the tip!

          3. re: limster

            limster fyi liang pi is a simple & healthy, yet devilshly addictive x'ian dish. it's a cold dish of a variety of noodles, bean curd, gluten, some chilis and loads of cilantro in a watery red chili sauce. i more than enjoy it, i inhale it. we outer borough fans are raving about it lately from a x'ian stall in one of the flushing food courts.

            ps -- i'll have to report back which place in the london chinatown i ate in after next week when i get back to london again. i didn't eat anything interesting, but it was pretty good -- i attached a picture i found below. unfotunately i didnt take a shot of the restaurant too as i usually would on a strip like that!

        2. Hi Limster,
          Do you have to order all the items you mentioned in your post, from a Chinese language menu? Do they hand non-Chinese customers the usual generic 'sweet and sour' menu?

          2 Replies
          1. re: medgirl

            Yes - those items (and more) are only on the Chinese language menu, which is why I tried to translate a bunch so that hounds don't have to read chinese to order them. They do indeed have a more generic menu but their advice to me was to avoid that.

            1. re: limster

              Woops - I was thinking about another restaurant when I replied above. The correct answer (i.e. disregard the above post) - the noodles and dumplings were from a chinese dim sum menu, the egg tarts and the dumpling in broth were from their regular English & Chinese dim sum menu, and the eel was from the Chinese only specials sheet at dinner.

          2. The population influx from China to London over the past decade has brought about many good things - all of them edible!

            One such place blessed with authentic hands is Inn Noodle, there is one next to Tottenham Ct Road and in Bayswater. The big ticks being for hand pulled noodles (lai mien) and dumplings - they have 4 main types - Shanghai, Wor Tip, Wontons and Chilli soup. I would recommend all of them but be warned - let them cool down for 1 minute before you chomp them, the eruption of the soupy juice is more enjoyable when your tongue is not scolded!

            Have taken friends there many times and have never left disappointed or hungry. They will also have the shanghai red-bean desserts if you're lucky...

            1 Reply
            1. re: doralam

              I was in the Mayflower on Shaftsbury avenue on Saturday - pretty good. The honey glazed ribs were gorgeous.