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Sep 6, 2010 03:15 PM

sichuan restaurants in London

I'm trying to organise another sichuan restaurant fest and was wondering if there are any good ones in London.

so far over the years we have tried, barshu-which we found portions too small and overpriced
Snazz which was lovely and was my fav for about a year then they changed the chef and not been back since 2008
Chilli Cool which we had a delightful meal last year but a crap one back in Feb 2010
can't remember the name but another one on charing x road- was ok, nothing to write about
Angeles in Kilburn is my favourite in terms of flavours, price and portions

however if anybody know of any other better and authentic sichuanese places that are reasonable in London than please mail me


s junkie

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  1. sorry forgot to add also been to gourmet san in bethnal green which is local to me- was ok but not spicy enough although the lamb skewers and crab were lovely

    trying to find somewhere new to try otherwise will go back to Angeles
    been tempted by ba shan but have heard mixed reviews and plus we are a greedy bunch so 'little dishes' just don't cut it for my lot :)

    thanks again

    s junkie

    2 Replies
    1. re: sichuanjunkie

      Gourmet San is not a Sichuan restaurant. It's a Dongbei restaurant that specialises in food from the 3 provinces NE of China (next to Korea). (Ditto for their sister restaurant My Old Place near Liverpool Street.) The food's good, but you'd have to order the Dongbei dishes rather than the Sichuan ones. I think it was mistakenly called a Sichuan restaurant in the press or on some blog and that error has been perpetuated since.

      I just heard that Ba Shu is good now (they've had chef changes).

      The place on Charing Cross Road is probably Red N Hot - I remember it being pretty decent but not great, although that was from a while back. And most tables seemed to been having hot pot though, which I didn't get.

      Have you been to Empress of Sichuan in Chinatown? Some of the dishes like the lamp shade beef are very good. See: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/677915 especially the replies which cover lots more dishes.

      Was wondering if we have an update on No. 10 Chinese restaurant in Earl's Court (I know Howler goes there a lot). That's the best Sichuan in London I've had to date, but only on their good days, and haven't been in a while.

      Angeles has been on my to try list for >1 year. What are your favourite dishes there; any dishes that are particularly good?

      1. re: limster

        no 10 is pretty fabulous when the chef-owner is at the wok; alas, his understudy isn't as skilled.

        unfortunately, i haven't been able to work out his schedule so you do take a bit of a chance.

    2. Hey there,

      I wasn't terribly impressed with Snazz besides their pig's feet. Their ma po do fu tasted like someone squeezed half a bottle of ketchup into it. Also, I was deeply unimpressed with their refusal to serve tap water and that I had a song and dance routine rivaling the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics to try to get me to purchase alcohol (not once, not twice, but something like 5 times during my meal. And each one was quite pushy and rude.)

      Similarly, Chilli Cool has some OK dishes (I like their vinegar aubergine and the bean thread noodles with ground pork and pickled chillies) but the service is terrifyingly bad. If anyone can dig up my old review of it, I would rate it probably the worst I have ever been treated in a restaurant ever (worse than the time at Cafe Glechik that I had to refill my own glass of water in the kitchen and worse than the time at Best Fuzhou in Lower Manhattan when I was refused service for being white. That's bad.)

      How is Angeles doing? They've sort of fallen off the radar.

      It's sort of trek, but the Sichuan restaurant in Acton Town (which I think is quite originally named Sichuan Restaurant) is pretty good. One of the most consistent and respectable places in town, but it's a bit of a ways out there. Number 10 is easily the best in London and I'd rate some of my meals there to be among the best Sichuan meals I've ever had. No 10 on a good day is better than New York's best places, but they are faaaar more consistent. I also really mourn the disappearance of their pork rib and potato starch noodle dish. It was on the old white board menu which was discontinued and it was godly.

      Finally, though Red Bar is a restaurant with a Northern Chinese chef and a menu that mixes up Sichuan and Northern dishes like Gourmet San... the Sichuan food is REALLY good. Super consistent and their ma la style Sichuan dishes are fantastic. Their ma po do fu is iffy though. I haven't have a really good version of that dish in London yet.

      8 Replies
      1. re: JFores

        We had written off Chili Cool for a while but then went again recently and were pleased again. It's possible their down period may have passed?

        1. re: Gordito

          yeah i've been to chilli cool twice in the past month, and both times it's been great (and no problems w/ the service). i would def recommend asking for the food to be spicy tho, since it seems to make a difference if yr not asian

          1. re: t_g

            No 10 is I think by far the best in London. Had pretty horrible meal at Bar Shu on Sunday, admittedly only two dishes (dan dan noodles and gong bao chicken) but was overpriced and chicken v gloopy

            1. re: t_g

              Sigh, update on Chili Cool. We went again this weekend with empty stomachs and high hopes. They are back in a bad phase, sad to report.

          2. re: JFores

            I'm with you on Red Bar on Bethnal Green Road. Started using it as an alternative to Gourmet San and have never looked back.

            1. re: JFores

              i just had lunch at the sichuan place in acton. excellent. the water boiled beef is outstanding! lots of things on the menu that i haven't seen elsewhere like rabbit.

              1. re: JFores

                Sichuan in Acton is my usual, but last night we tried No.10 in Earls Court for a bit of a change. Although No.10 was better than most Chinese offerings in London we really didn't think it matched with Sichuan in Acton when it came to the food. The cold noodles and garlic cucumber were both great but the offal snacks and boiled beef were too bland. I only caught 4 sichuan peppers in a whole big bowl of boiled beef. At Sichuan in Acton there would've been tens or hundreds.

                Conclusion - gonna stick with Acton's Sichuan for my tongue-numbing fix.

              2. cool thanks guys....at no 10 what dishes would you recommend/what's their signature dish?

                much appreciated :) can't wait to go

                s junkie

                3 Replies
                1. re: sichuanjunkie

                  so many good things - try the water boiled beef, the chicken with aubergines, the green beans with minced pork or even the standard twice cooked pork.

                  best to check whatevers on the white board as specials of the day, though.

                  1. re: sichuanjunkie

                    To add to Howler's list, their fish with dofu is really good, if you can get them to make the pork rib and potato noodle dish then that's one of the best things I've ever eaten, their fried chicken with chillies and peanuts dish is incredible and they do respectable chrysanthemum fish.

                    I think No 10 has a big post of its own, no?

                    1. re: JFores

                      I am a great fan of Taiwan Village at the bottom end of Lillie Road in SW6. The chef formerly cooked at Hunan in Pimlico - food is very good and service very friendly and efficient. Food is more hunanese, taiwanese and szechuan. Chef will book a banquet where he choses what he wants to cook. Cant recmmmend to strongly.

                  2. Tried Red Bar today as i was on Bethnal Green Rd...i wanted to like it, as i liked the small darkish room, the location, and the nice waiter...the cold garlic cucumber was fine, but the mapotofu was gluey/soupy (and also had zero ground pork in it, but oddly it did have bits of mushroom)...i might go there again if i happened to be nearby, but i was a bit disappointed...

                    so far have been Red Bar and BarShu, so i still have to try N.10, Emperess of Sichuan, and Chili Cool...

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Simon

                      I think that Red Bar, like Gourmet San, might also be a Dongbei place...didn't have a closer look at the menu when I ate there as we mostly got stuff from their Hangzhou menu, which was tasty but didn't precisely fit my idea of that regional cuisine.

                      1. re: limster

                        Tried Chili Cool today for lunch...very disappointing experience...the cold cucumber w/ garlic has *zero* garlic (and zero vinegar): was just unpeeled cucumber chunks in chili oil...huh?

                        the "gong bao prawns" were atrocious: not prawns at all but frozen-quality medium shrimp stir-fried w/ garlic and lots of whole chilies but: no Sichuan peppercorns, no salt/salty-condiment whatsoever...incredibly bland: like a version cooked by someone who had never tried to learn Sichuan cooking basics...(and about *five* peanuts tossed in -- to qualify it as gong bao??)...edible but lame and not remotely the real version of the dish...too bad, as the catfish in chili oil (la zi yu) i saw on another table looked great...

                        The rude service, w/ it's defensive-disregard-for-the-customer did remind me of so many places in China though, and brought back memories of my time in the PRC...oh, and they tried to overcharge me (which i pointed out and which they glumly fixed, as if they were disappointed at being caught in a lie)...

                        I'd like to go back and try that catfish, but they made it unlikely...


                        1. re: Simon

                          Unfortunately this is a bit more akin to my experiences there. They gave me loads of issues over using a foreign card once, tried to charge me for using a foreign card another time (after I cited the first time as the reason they could indeed accept them), was massively laowie'd on both service and seating the first time I went there (like a 2 hour wait or something outrageous like that. I only wrote my review on here of the place to make it known how unbelievably bad the service could be.)

                          BTW Red Bar has bad ma po do fu. I've not had a good version of it yet in London. The chef is Dongbei but some of his Sichuan dishes (ei. water cooked fish and beef) are pretty good.

                          1. re: JFores

                            hi...am gratified that you concur on the general nastiness at Chili Cool...

                            Today i continued my march through the Sichuan restaurants of Central London and went to Emperess of Sichuan for lunch w/ a friend...so far, it's the overall best of the bunch (Bar Shu, Chili Cool, Red Bar, Emperess of S)...

                            We had three cold starters: sliced pork in chili oil, cucumber w/ garlic, and tofu w/ green/red peppers...and two mains: bitter melon w/ green pepper, and gong bao king prawns...

                            Was the food great?...no...but it was very solid and hit the spot...the prawns were overly soy-saucey but otherwise yummy (and about half the price of Bar Shu)...the bitter melon might have been my fav: delicately cooked and a huge portion...

                            The servers were all Malaysian Chinese, and very nice...i liked the comfy booths (much more pleasant than the tables at pricier Bar Shu)...

                            So overall, the best experience...will return soon...(and i'll also venture to N.10 by Canada Water)...

                            1. re: Simon

                              n. 10? you mean number 10? i dont think it's by canada water is it?

                              1. re: t_g

                                you're right!...i was confusing the location w/ the location of Royal Palace...thanks for correction...i am new to the City of London... :)

                                1. re: Simon

                                  that's ok ! i still havent made it to no. 10, but i work near canada water so i was like - man, if that's where it is i really need to go!

                              2. re: Simon

                                revisited Emperess of S last night...went w/ a Thai friend who likes spicy food but who hadn't tried much Sichuan before...we had two starters (cucumber, shredded chicken) and three mains (gong bao prawns, green beans w/ minced pork, lamb filets w/ cumin) and we finished every bite of every dish...nice wine by the glass...perfect service as before...definitely a new regular place for me...

                                Foodwise, i've had better Sichuan meals in NYC (and Chengdu of course), but the combo of solid Sichuan, comfy setting, great service, and central location makes it work...esp when compared to Chili Cool (bad food when i went but based on reviews here maybe hit-or-miss food, atrocious service) and BarShu (very-good-but-very-overpriced food, competent-but-pretentious service, less comfy tables)...

                                Emperess wins! (in Central London at least)

                                1. re: Simon

                                  Chilli cool is near work so been twice - both times has been good but not as good as Bar Shu which made my favourite aubergine dish ever - was so good, did not mind the price but it is expensive.