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Nov 2, 2009 01:44 AM

No 10 Restaurant - Sichuan in Earls Court - London - Report

I ate at No 10 for the first time last night, after reading very positive things on chowhound. Five of us shared seven dishes. Some were excellent, and some were a bit less excellent:

In order of appearance on the table:

1) Water-cooked beef - This is a common Sichuan dish, which I had had before elsewhere (and also its fish counterpart). Presentation was nice - a big bowl of beef and cabbage topped with loads of dried chilies and noticeable (though not huge) amount of sichuan peppercorn. I was expecting a broth like consistency, but was surprised to find that the sauce was actually quite full of starch, so it wasn't broth-like at all. The dish was spicy, but not overpoweringly so, so the sauce was relatively tasty, if a bit gloopy. Interestingly, later in the meal, the gloopyness of the sauce collapsed (the binding agent stopped working), which left the broth much more souplike (and in my opinion, better). So overall, this was good, but different than what I was expecting based on prior experiences with this dish.

2) Eggplant (from the sichuan part of the menu). Eggplant was peeled, so it was green colored, seasoned in a vinegar/oil based sauce with sichuan peppercorn, chilies, spring onion, and some other spices as well I think. Quite tasty and different than other eggplant dishes I've had at Sichuan restaurants before, so I would definitely come back for this.

3) Dry fried French beans with pork - Another favorite dish of mine. This version was a bit on the salty side, but otherwise very good - string beans were wilted, pork was tasty, presentation and serving size were great.

4) Ma-po tofu - Ordered this from the non-Sichuan part of the menu, where there are still a few Sichuan items scattered about. This rendition was pretty good - at first it was hard to taste any sichuan peppercorn in this, especially compared to the beef. But when I tasted this later in the meal, once it had cooled down, I thought the balance of flavors had improved. The base of the dish had a strong meaty flavor that is often hard to find in mapo tofu dishes in the West, so I was actually pretty impressed. Would order this again too if I was in the mood.

5) Baby bok choi with garlic - simple preparation, lots of garlic. Nicely done.

6) Dan Dan Noodles - The base of this noodle dish was almost pure peanut - so it wasn't at all what I was expecting, and one might argue that these really weren't dan dan noodles, but rather peanut noodles. Thinking of them as peanut noodles, they were pretty good (but a bit overcooked). But the dan dan mein at Baozi Inn on Friday (see my post about this also on this board) was much better.

7) "Chrysanthemum" or "Squirrel Tail" fried fish with sweet and sour sauce - Whole fish battered and fried, topped with a sweet and sour sauce. The flower and squirrel images are a reference to how the fish puffs up when its fried. I thought the fish was fried nicely, although the batter was a bit thick. Sweet and sour sauce was a bit goopy for my taste, but not bad either. Eating this was not that far off from eating English fried fish with vinegar. So, it was enjoyable, but I probably wouldn't rush to order this again.

Portions were quite large here - on par with restaurants in China or the USA - which meant that the value was quite good. 5 of us ate all of that, plus rice, and total bill including service was only £70. And it was a LOT of food. Service was friendly, not too rushed, and I liked the overall feel of the restaurant. Hopefully some of my dining companions will chime in with their opinions as well.....overall, it was definitely not a perfect meal, but it's convenient, cheap and good enough that I will definitely be going back to try more.

Dave MP

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  1. i think no 10 is generally outstanding, but you do have to watch out for the days that the owner/chef is absent; also days when the kitchen is busy - yesterday was absolutely manic with everyone getting back from half term break - my home delivery took over an hour and i live about 10 minutes away.

    when the owner cooks the water beef, it is fabulous - but when he's not there, the junior chef drapes the beef in way too much corn starch before frying and so the sauce gets gloopy. it shouldn't be like that, but alas - you have to specify no corn starch to get a better version.

    1 Reply
    1. re: howler

      Yes, we kind of guessed that the owner wasn't there last night. Limster was one of my dining companions, and he mentioned your observations about this.

      Next time I will ask for no corn starch, cause I think it would have been much better without it. And I'll try going on a different day when the owner is there.

    2. Went to no 10 yesterday on the back of many excellent reviews here and had a wonderful meal. The dishes had plenty of unique flavour in addition to the spicy Sichuan touch that was not overdone. Dishes ordered were:

      water cooked beef - the texture of the beef here was the highlight. smooth and tender, very well done.

      ma la fish - this was my favourite dish of the night and would highly recommend it to others. it was slices of fish cooked in a spicy broth with tofu. fantastic

      Aubergine with peppers - my second favourite dish of the night. it was a style of cooking aubergine I have never tasted before. The toppings of garlic and peppers, with a tangy vinegar base, made for an exquisite dish.

      Dry French beans with pork - Very good with the dried chillies giving a nice punch to this dish

      Twice cooked pork - Fairly tasty, but did not stand out particularly

      Bill came to £60 for two including two Tsing Taos. Must admit to having overdone it on the number of dishes, but between myself and my mate, we wiped the table clean - a testament to the food. I'm sold on no. 10