bashan, hunanese in soho [London]
i learnt about the place from rayners review in the guardian a couple of weeks ago.
he's right. the cooking is fantastic.
chicken consomme with noodles was ethereal and infused with everything chicken. mashed aubergine was almost identically baba ganouj - kerist, have the hunanese discovered this dish too, right down to the sesame paste? the stir fried pork with green peppers and garlic was so much more satisfying than the version across the road at golden day, but the huge highlight was the slow cooked prawns, a hit even bigger than the unctuous mao's braised pork belly. and then the green beans!
there are a few sichuan items on the menu - with such expert cooking, i'm tempted to try them and see how they fare compared to their sister restaurant (bar shu) across the road.
Actually all of their restaurants - Baozi Inn, Bar Shu and Ba Shan have completely revamped their menus. Baozi Inn now has loads of small dishes on the menu. Bar Shu has got a lot more adventurous (more offal and daring stuff). Ba Shan has turned Hunanese. I'm surprised this wholesale change hasn't been more publicised/recognised. I haven't been to any of them since this change though - so my opinion means nothing. My previous experiences have been along the lines of:
- Ba Shan - overpriced very nice dumplings. But very overpriced. Obviously its now completely different.
- Baozi Inn - a great place to get a reasonably priced bowl of handmade noodles. Dumplings also have requisite delicate skins that you rarely see in this country. Just not a fan of the decor or environment. But good cheap food (other than the ironically poor baozis).
- Bar Shu - overpriced, and slightly lamentably toned down Sichuanese food. BUT...I can't help but get away from the fact that I think this place has been a ridiculous victim of its own success and the online community turning against them. The food there has always been top notch in terms of pure quality of cooking. I imagine with their new menu its a fantastic place to go, as Ba Shan sounds too. Been too bust scouring other cuisines of late, think I may give one of the aforementioned a try sooner rather than later.