Chinese Cricket Club New Year Dinner:
About this time last year I visited the Chinese Cricket Club for a celebratory New Year lunch. We had a great meal although dining with just one other person it was a quiet affair. This year I was invited back in the evening for a press dinner in anticipation of the ‘Year of the Sheep’ . Since the restaurant has a new executive chef, Ken Wang, I was curious to see what had changed and to get a feel for what the venue would be like for a real party. The advantage of a lunch time review is perhaps evident in the contrast between this year’s photos and last. It’s much easier to take good pictures when there’s a little daylight – and large groups do make it hard to get a shot without someone else’s plate, iPhone or notebook in the background. I’m also easily distracted and I find that my note taking fizzles out very quickly if I am with a group and the conversation is good.
So, how did the evening go?
These rather elegant dim sum started the meal . The vibrant green dumplings were chicken and spinach, the one with gravy was duck, there was a plump, caviar topped, scallop shumai and a traditional har gau. Presentation was beautiful – something quite hard to achieve with a steamer full of dumplings, and although I didn’t taste each one, they were a nicely differentiated mixture.
Pan fried lamb dumplings were delicious morsels, with the crisp dumpling skin filled with a rich tender lamb.
The sauted mince of chicken with a lettuce wrap was delicious – but then this is one of my favourite presentations of Chinese food and here the filling was light, crunchy and had just a hint of hoisin and chilli.
We were mixing and matching between two different menus but I had no problem with that, especially as the next dish was a great plate of cumin infused lamb skewers garnishes with coriander and sesame.
We all loved the lobster stir fry with ginger and spring onion sauce, served with rice cake. I was suprised at how easy it was to eat, though definitely a point at which chopsticks were put to one side.
Red chilli sea bass was nice, but just a little watery in texture. I’d still rather see this delicate fish served on the bone and with it’s head. Apart from being a more authentic way to serve Chinese style fish, it would have helped prevent the dish over-cooking.
Braised rack of lamb with chinese dates was delicious, with a slight sweet sour flavour. A beautiful looking plate of food and a real showcase dish for chef Ken Wang.
We also tried the iron sizzling lamb with black pepper sauce from the alternate menu. I love this kind of food, perhaps partly because I like the theatre of seeing things cooked in front of me.
So, the end result for me was very positive. While I don’t think I concentrated enough on the food (perhaps due to an ever flowing bottle of wine), it was a great evening and I can see how a group of friends out to celebrate the Year of the Sheep would have a great time at the Chinese Cricket Club.
There were elements of brilliance in the menu, with perhaps a little too much concession to Western tastes for me. But then, that may just be because I tend to take a Chinese friend with me – and I know we generally end up eating food that isn’t on the regular menu. And I can see that for the regular diner, eating chicken feet perhaps isn’t on their wish list.
The Year of the Sheep celebratory menus are priced at £48 and £68 per person for a four course feast (with several dishes in each course). Served for a minimum of two people, you should come hungry!
Chinese Cricket Club
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 19 New Bridge Street, Blackfrairs EC4V 6DB