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Silk Road - Report [London]

Dave MP Mar 8, 2010 01:43 AM

Finally made it to Silk Road last night. I can't believe it took me this long to try this place.

Four of us ate:

8 lamb kebabs - These were spicy and delicious. I especially liked the fatty bits.

Middle-Plate-Chicken - Delicious spicy broth with potatoes and pieces of chicken on the bone. This is a smaller version of the big-plate-chicken I guess. Really really good, I loved the flavors in the broth.

Lamb and onion dumplings - The best dumplings I have had in London so far, and the best lamb dumplings I've ever had (better than Mandarin Islamic in San Francisco). Really good. And you get 10 for £2.50! We had to do rock-paper-scissors do decide who got the two extras....probably on my next visit we'll just get two orders.

Homestyle Aubergine - This was different than any of us expected. Skinless aubergine in small cubes, with chilies, tomato and a lot of garlic. Nice flavor - reminded me more of Central Asian eggplant dishes I've had before than of other Chinese eggplant dishes.

Homestyle Cabbage - Bright green cabbage, stir fried with dried and fresh chilies and in a slightly sweet sauce. Delicious, nice crunch to the cabbage.

Cold Shredded Kelp Salad - The sauce was REALLY garlicky, and a bit goopy. This was my least favorite thing that we ordered, as I prefer seaweed salads when they are in lighter dressings. But still pretty good.

Two orders of rice.

Pot of jasmine tea, a few beers

Total bill was £40 before tip.

The restaurant was crowded, and there were some serious service issues - the food took a really really long time to come out. We noticed that this was a problem for all the tables, not just us.....our lamb kebabs were the first to arrive, about 35 minutes after we ordered. This was followed by the middle-plate-chicken, but despite our asking about them twice, the noodles for the middle-plate-chicken didn't come out for another 45 minutes! This meant that the soup was practically cold by the time the noodles arrived, but the heat of the noodles brought it up to a warm temperature again. So, it was a long meal, but the food was great, and I will definitely be back. Especially for more dumplings.

Dave MP

  1. s
    skut Mar 8, 2010 07:15 PM

    Great report, though sorry you had to wait so long. Sometimes service is a bit slow, though I've never waited more than half the time you did, but it's always sweet and friendly. I can only imagine that for whatever reason they were short staffed in the kitchen on the night of your visit. Also admire your restraint on the dumplings, I always order every variety they have that day!

    1. Dave MP May 3, 2010 03:12 PM

      Went back for the second time yesterday, had another great meal.

      This time, following Skut's advice, we started with two orders of dumplings (for 3 of us). Beef and onion, and the lamb. Both are really great, and different from dumplings I've had anywhere else. I thought the beef ones were good on their own, though the lamb ones definitely benefited from a bit of added chili sauce and vinegar.

      The middle plate chicken was good, and this time the noodles came out at a reasonable time, only about 10 mins after we were served the dish. It seemed like there were more chicken pieces this time too, tons of potatoes too. Again, great.

      Cabbage w/ vinegar was OK, but I preferred the homestyle cabbage we had on my first visit.

      We also tried the Xinjiang fried noodles, which was much wetter than I expected - a fair amount of tomato making for a gravy. Bits of lamb (or beef?), celery, chilies, excellent noodles....this was a very nice dish, and I'd order it again.

      After all of this, we still felt like more dumplings, so we ordered the shrimp/egg/leek ones. These were decent, but not as good as leek dumplings I have had in Boston and Los Angeles....and not as amazing, in my opinion, as the beef or lamb. But still nice.

      We drank only tap water, and total bill for a TON of food for 3 people was £27.50 before tip. Great deal, better service this time, and good to know that they *are* open on Sundays, despite the fact that the google page says they aren't.

      Dave MP

      11 Replies
      1. re: Dave MP
        j
        JFores May 4, 2010 06:55 AM

        Glad you're enjoying Silk Road. I wish I could've made it to this one as I've been craving Xinjiang food, but instead I'm forced to write about the province itself for the next 48 hours (not to mention the better part of the last 72.)

        Mmmm dissertations on obscure topics.

        At any rate, next time try ordering the lagman (xinjiang lamian/fried noodles) as suomien. I prefer it that way at Silk Road and in general. The noodles will be the same ones used in the soup rather than the longer hand pulled ones. Next time I get over there I'm meaning to ask them if they could make Uighur manti soup by making smaller lamb dumplings and tossing them into the tomato and coriander broth they already have.

        I had some unbelievably good Uighur food in Istanbul (as good as in Xinjiang without the CONSTANT fear of food poisoning) so I want to push my boundaries with the menu again. Unfortunately they can't make any of the baked items you'd normally see in the region because they don't have the necessary oven (basically a tandoor.)

        BTW one thing that I never see anyone reviewing Silk Road ordering is the boiled lamb. Give it a shot next time. It's an eating experience and their version is as good if not better than ones I saw in Turfan and Urumqi (except again, SIlk Road's version benefits from not having sat out in 43 C heat for the last 5 hours at a bazaar stall.) As a dish their big plate chicken is better, but the boiled lamb is pretty good too. Oh yeah and the special big plate chicken is unbelievably good. A must order when you get enough people.

        Has anyone gotten the big plate tripe? Shekha's normally tripe-a-phobic, but I'm rehabilitating her back into organ meats so maybe I'll get to trying it before any of you lot after all.

        Justin

        1. re: JFores
          Dave MP May 5, 2010 06:54 AM

          What is the difference between the normal and special big plate chicken dishes?

          1. re: Dave MP
            j
            JFores May 5, 2010 09:56 AM

            They use a free range chicken which they slow braise. There's no potatoes. Just an immense amount of chicken. It's also spicier and thicker which is a bit closer to what you'd find in XInjiang. The portion's bigger too.

            1. re: JFores
              j
              JFores May 5, 2010 10:40 PM

              Would you guys be up for another Silk Road chowdown sometime soon?

              1. re: JFores
                s
                skut May 6, 2010 02:21 PM

                I'm in. Any excuse.

                1. re: JFores
                  deansa May 9, 2010 02:00 AM

                  Sounds good. I'd really like to try the special big plate chicken after your description!

                  1. re: deansa
                    d
                    daisyK Aug 26, 2010 05:59 AM

                    I want to go tonight and have been calling all day but there is no answer. Does anyone know if it is closed at the moment and whether it is vital to book as I might just go anyway? Many thanks

                    1. re: daisyK
                      Dave MP Aug 26, 2010 07:08 AM

                      I have never been able to get through to them on the phone before - so don't let that worry you. In fact, I'm kind of unconvinced that the published phone number even works at all!

                      It shouldn't be necessary to book on a Thursday, and I'm not sure they really take bookings anyway unless it's a very large group.

                      My advice would be to just go. I haven't heard anything about them being closed, and they are definitely open on Thursdays generally. Worse case scenario, you'll have to eat elsewhere - but there are plenty of other restaurants close by.

                      Good luck! Report back on what you order!

                      1. re: Dave MP
                        s
                        Sharmila Aug 26, 2010 10:39 AM

                        Well, it was open on Saturday night as I ate there then. Didn't book either. Filled up quickly though. It's great having this place so close to home. The home style cabbage is truly amazing, and a must-order whenever I visit.

                        1. re: Sharmila
                          m
                          medgirl Aug 26, 2010 11:06 AM

                          They do answer the phone (sometimes have better luck phoning in the evening) and do take bookings for tables, even for two people. On the internet, it appears they do lunch as well as dinner, but when I called, the lady who answered said they open between 5pm and 11pm. Really disappointed they don't do lunch as I have been raving about this place to people at work and we can only do the occasional lunch together.

                          1. re: medgirl
                            d
                            daisyK Aug 27, 2010 06:59 AM

                            I drove there at 6pm yesterday and we were the only people in there. Had a fabulous meal of middle-plate chicken, which was a delight, the broth beautifully flavoured. I wasn;t as mad as others on the lamb kebabs - but perhaps because I had just returned from eating my way along the Lycian Way in Turkey... prawn and egg dumplings good, but the star of the show was the homestyle aubergine. It tasted like it had been fried in copious amounts of oil, so not sure if it's allowed to qualify as one of my five a day, but I'd be back in a shot just for that. Along with No. 10's twice cooked pork and Chilli Cool's chilli chicken, this would be my dream meal ( I know Silk Road isn't Sichuan, but I am talking about my dream chilli fix meal).

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