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Feb 16, 2014 03:37 PM

Kai, Chinatown, London

A newish Sichuan place on Lisle street (not related to Kai Mayfair). The chef is apparently Sichuan, but there are Dongbei dishes on the menu, besides the more generic Cantonese ones and a few Fuzhou items. You'll have to ask for the Chinese menu if you want anything beyond generic Cantonese.

Noodles are made in house for the dan dan noodles, thin fettucine like strands, with a good slightly chewy texture. The flavours are fine, a mild mix of spiciness and vinegar, with an obvious sichuan peppercorn zing. Departs from my favourite renditions in the weak spice levels and the lack of a nice crispy char to the minced pork. But otherwise a good tasty dish.

I liked the 地三鲜, a Dongbei dish consisting of aubergines, potato and bell peppers. Here the aubergines were battered and deep fried before added to the stir-frying process, and the texture was brilliant gooey and chewy.

Other dishes were ok. We weren't particularly excited by the water cooked fish or the mouth-watering chicken. Xiao long bao were rustic renditions with thick skins and hearty meat filling, rather than the delicate elegant broth filled dumplings.

Some of the Sichuan items might be worth trying, although it would be a good idea to tell them to crank up the heat.

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  1. Oh my, one of those rustic Dongbei Chinese spots called itself Kai as well?!

    The "mouth-watering" chicken, if done correctly - silken-smooth-textured poached chicken smothered with a thick, gluggy, robust sauce - would indeed be heavenly.

    3 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      The sauce for the chicken is almost like a vinaigrette - a lot of chilli oil, along with vinegar, soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorns etc. There's a description here:

      1. re: limster

        on the bus the other day i saw that the signage for 'great wall' on old street now says 'specialising in northeastern chinese food, sichuan, grilled meats, noodles & dumplings'... has anyone given it a go?

        1. re: limster

          Had a good version last year at Sichuan Douhua restaurant (60th floor, UOB Plaza) in Singapore - appropriately lip-numbing :-)

      2. You seem to be able to curb your enthusiasm for Kai. Are there any solid Dongbei establishments in London? I've fallen in love with the cuisine after multiple visits to Flushing Chinatown in NYC.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Dave Feldman

          Crystal China on Tower Bridge Road. Has a Dongbei/Sichuan menu.