It’s some months since I last had lunch here and, for my partner, it was her first visit. As on every previous visit, all the other customers were young Chinese folk – perhaps it’s only the youngsters who brave the quite considerable number of stairs to get to the restaurant.
Anywhere else, I’d probably run a mile from a place where the menu was in pictures, although the dishes are also named, but here it seems to work. You write down the dish numbers on a little slip and give it to the server. Knowing the usual portion size here, we skipped starters and went straight into the mains, which will each serve two people with not very large appetites.
Gong bao prawns was a good mix of sweet, vinegary,hot flavours, zingy with ginger. A generous serving of king prawns which, to our taste, could have done with slightly longer in the pan. But only slightly. Good crunch from the peanuts. Nice but it quickly went a bit congealed as it cooled which was definitely not an advantage.
Another Sichuan classic was cumin lamb. Thin slices of meat, tossed with a heavy dose of cumin. It seems to work really well with lamb in different cuisines, both east and west. There’s also garlic, dried chilli and Sichuan pepper in there and just a little moistening of, I think, soy sauce. Really good.
With the Hunan just down the road and Red Chilli just round the corner, there’s a little competition for the spicy Chinese meal now. I think Red N Hot just edges it from the other two.