Restaurants & Bars 3

The "other" Capital restaurant in London...

magnolia | Mar 7, 200204:59 AM

No, not the Eric Chavot place.

This one's Shanghainese, and very good indeed. Lots of noodle, wonton and dumpling type dishes on the menu - it reminded me more of New York City-style Chinese restaurants that I love and miss.

I went with another C-hound, and two friends, and we shared the following (as I didn't write anything down, my memory may fail me but I'm sure I will be corrected!):

mixed starter plate which included shredded jellyfish; lots of different pork items (ear, knuckle I think, etc.) as well as some tofu.

spring onion pancakes - much puffier and less greasy than those I'm used to (admittedly not so authentic, as my benchmark are the scallion pancakes from Ollie's in NYC)

grilled dumplings - these were excellent and we ended up ordering a second helping

fried rice with salted fish - I wasn't so enthusiastic about this when I saw it on the menu, but it was really good - the fish was in small nuggets, and wasn't overly salty

braised noodles with eel - in a very rich, savoury sauce - again well-executed, as many noodles & sauce dishes are executed so haphazardly that the sauce separates into grease...and brown juice. Not so here.

I may be leaving something out, I am pretty sure we had a chicken dish or a prawn dish but I can't remember! Anyway all of this plus drinks came to around £17 a head, including tip. There are two menus, one 'main' menu and one with snacky, smaller dishes. They don't have dim sum and as a result, it was pretty empty at Sunday lunchtime.

The owner came out and mingled with the guests, which I have never experienced in a Chinese restaurant before. He sat down at one table and had a glass of wine with the diners. He's a former paediatrician and was very interested in hearing what we had to say. In our ongoing quest for the elusive soup dumplings, we asked why he doesn't carry them and he said something about "lard" which I didn't quite catch...hmmm...anyway other than that, it was great and I am definitely going back.

Plus they had really beautiful flower arrangements, and they seem to care about the look of the place, which is unusual for restaurants along that strip of Gerrard Street, Chinatown's main drag.

Capital Restaurant, 8 Gerrard Street. You can't miss the fuschia facade.

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