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Year of the Fire Rooster – Preview of the Chinese New Year Feast – Chinese Cricket Club:
I was very excited to be invited to try the special menu for the Chinese New Year at the Chinese Cricket Club (great name for a restaurant, don’t you think?). It’s been a long time since I did anything to celebrate Chinese New Year; I think the last time was when my son was 5 in 1998 and I’d won tickets to the premier of Mulan at the Odeon in Leicester Square which had been timed to coincide with the celebrations in China Town. We had a fabulous time; the Chinese State Circus performed before the film, and then we went into China Town for food and watched a dragon dance through the streets.
I’m a great fan of Sichuan food which is based on seven key flavours, which are: hot, spicy, sweet, sour, savoury, bitter and aromatic with staple seasoning of garlic, sesame, chilli and fragrant Sichuan peppers. The food here is prepared to a high standard, applying modern ideas to traditional flavours. The Chinese New Year menu is all about sharing, and so we were able to sample the delicious dishes on offer.
We started with some traditional cold starters of jellyfish salad and chicken in Sichuan hot & numbing sauce (this wasn’t numbingly hot at all!). For some reason, I’d missed the fact that the chicken was going to be served cold, Chef Ken Wang explained to us that this is the traditional Chinese way, and that hot starters are really an invention for the British market. Both of these dishes were light and seemed to be a lot healthier than normal Chinese high street fare.
The butterflied marinated king prawns Shanghai style were delicious, and my favourite dish from the starter portion of the menu.
The cod fillet with fermented tofu sauce Anhui style was again a light dish and one I could feel fairly virtuous eating. The sautéed venison tenderloin with red wine black pepper sauce was stunning and the star of the meal for me. The meat was melt in the mouth tender and the sauce reduced to the point of perfect richness. This was the perfect cold January night dish.
By the time the slowed-stewed lamb shank with Chinese red dates arrived I was pretty full! The sauce was rich, reduced, with a touch of sweetness from the dates. This was a much more hearty dish, and loved by Alex. The pak choi both looked and tasted beautiful, and the quantity of noodles was just right.
We finished with sweet sesame rice balls, these were warm dumpling-like balls in a broth containing some goji berries.
This menu is only available from 27th January to 2nd February 2017; if you go on the 27th there is the added bonus of a lion dance at 7 p.m.