Sharmila on Food

18/03/2010

Of golden days and little lambs…

Regular readers of this blog (all two of you) might be aware by now that I like Chinese food quite a bit.  Well, a lot.  Some might say my interest is bordering on the obsessive.  They would probably be right. 

This obsession has been facilitated by the growth of good restaurants serving a wider variety of regional Chinese cuisine.  It’s a good thing when you can at least try Xinjiang, Sichuan or Fuijan food in the capital.  Hunanese food is also another one to add to the list.  I recently made a trip to Local Friends in Golders Green and really really enjoyed the Hunanese food on offer.  I am eager to make a return trip.  However, Golders Green is quite far from Peckham.  Shaftesbury Avenue is a lot closer though, so I was supremely excited when I got word that a Hunanese restaurant called Golden Day had opened on the site Chinese Experience used to occupy in Chinatown.  I hotfooted it down there as quickly as I could.

As there was only two of us dining, this limited our ability to order a wide variety of dishes.  However, we did still over order.  Such is life.

The first dish was a plate of thin cold sliced beef dressed in chilli.  This isn’t Hunanese really, but I made the mistake of thinking this was going to be the tasty looking dish of beef everyone else in the restaurant appeared to be eating.  Hey ho.  Anyhow, this was nice, but it lacked some of the real chilli kick and numbing pepperiness you should encounter.

Much tastier was the dish of smoked pork with dried radish.  This is actually what I also ordered in Local Friends.  Not very adventurous, but I do adore this dish and wanted to see how it shaped up.  This was definitely good, and I enjoyed it, but it lacked some of the depth that the Local Friends version had.  The smoked pork in that version was seriously tasty and addictive.  However, a bit of fried smoked pork is never going to be a bad thing and this was quickly polished off.

Alongside this was a dish of Chinese cabbage stir fried with garlic.  Nice, but not amazing.

To finish off was a lovely soup of pork ribs and lotus root.  Whilst this may look like murky dishwater, the broth was really flavoursome and soothing.

All in all, my meal at Golden Day was good but not great.  Local Friends most definitely edges it for me, and is also cheaper .  If only it wasn’t in the depths of North West London…

Anyway, another recent Chinese experience was hot pot at Little Lamb.  Hot pot is a wonderfully sociable way to eat, involving a communal pot of broth, a ton of different ingredients and a little fishing net to fish your food out with.  What’s not to love?

This was a very enjoyable meal.  Little Lamb have a £20pp set meal deal which means each person can order five ingredients to add to their choice of stock (we went for a split stock of spicy and herbal).  That’s a lot of ingredients.  We opted for: tofu, mushrooms, beef, ham, luncheon meat, pea shoots, pak choy, bamboo shoots, squid and soft noodles.  Phew. Over the course of the next hour we devoured all this, leaving the noodles till last. This was the best bit, as the stock by this point was intensely flavoursome, making the noodles seriously tasty.

I would definitely head back to Little Lamb - probably in a larger group (there’s not denying hot pot for two people feels just a little bit gluttonous).  There are also other places in London that offer hot pot, and I’m eager to try it out at Chilli Cool in the future.  I would recommend hot pot to anyone looking to have a sociable and fun eating experience - you can’t really get that serious when you’re wielding a mini fishing net.

Details:

Golden Day

118-120 Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 5EP
020 74942381

Nearest transport: Leicester Square tube

Price: medium (most dishes are around the £8 mark)

Little Lamb

72 Shaftesbury Avenue

London

020 7287 8078

Nearest transport: Leicester Square tube

Price: cheap to medium - go for the £20pp set meal

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