49 Camberwell Church St., SE5 8TR
Telephone: 020 7703 4832
Monday to Friday – 5pm to 11pm
Saturday & Sunday – 2pm to 11pm
The food scene in Camberwell is now, in some ways, more interesting than that in Brixton. There are a number of top class eating places, rather than a food court with an increasing number of burger joints. This place, serves food from north-west China and Sichuan, is recognised as one of the best.
This isn’t fine dining. Just a single shop front in Camberwell Church Street, furnished with simple tables and benches, with the cooking all done in full view behind the counter. The simply cooked food comes quickly and without ceremony. The two of us weren’t looking for a big meal and were in and out in less than 45 minutes. But people pack-in to enjoy the authentic flavours. The Time-Out review says the dishes are “fiery, but also balanced with a plethora of spices” and recommends sticking to the Xinjiang specialities.
This is not your standard Chinese food. The menu is relatively short, concentrating on the regional specialities, many of which are new to us. We ordered the cabbage with lamb noodle, plus portions of home-style aubergine, and shredded kelp. We also had a portion of the egg, leek and shrimp filled dumplings.
The choice of dumplings was a mistake, as they lacked any clear flavours and, perhaps, were under-cooked. The rest delivered the excitement that we were looking for, even though our waiter advised against the stir-fried lamb shish noodle, when one of us said they didn’t want anything that was too hot. What we ordered, all rated as one chilli on the menu, was hot enough for most. The aubergine dish, one of a number of interesting vegetarian options, was my favourite.
For drinking the choice is simple – House Red Wine, House White Wine, and TsingTao beer. We can’t report on the quality of the wine as we stuck to jasmine tea.
Despite the disappointment with the dumplings, we enjoyed the meal and will certainly be back. The service was brisk and efficient, offering helpful advice when looking at an unusual menu. And the cost was most reasonable, coming in at around £25, including service.