The Sichuan Chef (London, June 2018)


Okay, back to London in June and back to Sichuan food. We’d planned to eat at the Sichuan Chef on our much longer trip in 2017, after seeing a Fuchsia Dunlop tweet about it but somehow it never came to pass. It had apparently just opened then, a branch of Sichuan Folk in Spitalfields—which we also did not eat at. But on this trip we were staying within walking distance of it in Chelsea. As it happened, we ate there right after moving to our AirBnB from our friends’ place in Kingston, building up our appetite with a 25 minute walk, and then walking off our meal at the Natural History Museum. 

By the way, the address puts it in South Kensington but if you were to aim to get there by tube the closest station is Earl’s Court. When you get there you will find a small, unprepossessing restaurant. We were there for a late lunch on a weekday and there wasn’t a whole lot of seated custom—though we were not the only diners. However, there was a steady stream of delivery services showing up to pick up food.

The menu is not brief and contains most but not all of the Sichuan classics—the boys were disappointed not to find dan dan noodles on the menu (at least not by that name). Though we had a refrigerator at the flat we weren’t going to be back there for a few hours and didn’t fancy carrying loads of leftovers around the Natural History Museum; and so we didn’t order in our usual excessive manner. Not being sure of what their specialties might be, we decided to stick with an order of classic dishes. We started out with the cold chicken in special sauce (of peanuts and sesame) and went on to the fish-fragrant pork slivers and mapo tofu; an order of green beans with minced pork rounded out the meal. All were very good without being out of the ordinary in any way. It was solid and familiar Sichuan cooking, though thankfully less oily than is often the case.

For a look at the space, the menu and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for thoughts on service, value and comparisons to other Sichuan restaurants in London.

With service charge all of this came to £56, which is not bad at all for London. Service was friendly and present. While we’d asked for the mapo tofu to be properly spicy it came out somewhere between medium and properly spicy. On the basis of this small sample size I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot separating it from the other Sichuan places we ate at in 2017. From a food perspective I’d probably eat here again over Chilli Cool but would take Baiwei over it. And I guess the lower price here might make me pick it over Ma La Sichuan as well. Your mileage may vary. I can say though that its relative proximity to the museums our kids love to spend time in makes it likelier in reality that we’d come back here than to any of the other places on a future trip.

Okay, back to Bombay again for the next food report and then I think I’ll finish off the Hong Kong reports before coming back to London.

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