Sunday, March 7, 2010

Silk Road

Am just quite amazed at regional Chinese cooking in London, the scene is much more varied than when I first arrived in the UK nearly 11 years ago. You still get ignoramuses who think Chinese is fluorescent sweet and sour rodents and everything is stir-fried, but on the whole the cuisine's reputation in London has come a long way. So much so that I'm discovering Chinese food from my mother-ship I never knew existed.

My new discovery was Silk Road on Camberwell Church Road, and from the outside you never would have thought anything special. Seating is minimal in a bench and table arrangement, it's pretty humble bare bones stuff. It is regional Chinese food from the Xinjiang province, which Google Maps says borders Russia, Mongolia, all the "Stans" and India, i.e. top left China. How representative it is of that region, I won't know for now, though good numbers of mainland Chinese customers when we visited was encouraging.

So you get dumplings and noodles as you might do from other Chinese regions, but the highlights here are the kebabs. Immediately I could see the neighbouring influences to the region's cooking. What looked incredibly measly on their skewers were deceivingly spicy to which I didn't feel I needed more than my helping. Lots of cumin and chilli on lamb, it could have been Indian for all I tasted.

We tried prawn, egg and chive dumplings which must have been handmade due to their irregular shape. Wonderfully tasty and juicy despite not coming a sauce. And ridiculously cheap. For three Great British Pounds buys you ten nice sized dumplings. A prime example of how the Chinese can undercut at insanely good quality.

And lastly the hand-pulled noodles. We had ours with "Mixed Vegetables" that was really just tomatoes, green chilli and cabbage but with oodles of garlic and onion that made a rather good sauce.

Service was extremely attentive and friendly, which is very un-typically Chinese! What an interesting little place. Long may these small treasures bloom and grow in the unlikely dark lanes of mighty London.

Our rather ridiculously cheap bill!

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