Thursday, 20 November 2014

Silk Road, Xinjiang Chinese in Camberwell

Mid plate chicken
In Sydney I could literally fall of bed an into the delights of China town, but authentic Asian cooking doesn't seem quite as easy to find in London. With its promise of authentic Sichuan food, Silk Road in Camberwell has been on my wish list for quite a while.

After a false start last year, when we got turned away, I planned this trip properly; assembling a group of friends and, crucially, making a booking. I had a strange nervousness that out booking would have been lost, but thankfully all was well and we got shown to a small table at the back of the restaurant.
Beef and onion dumplings 
I'd been teasing my companions that we were in for a night of offal, While there was generous sprinkling of tripe on the menu we were able to easily avoid, selecting a dish from most sections of the menu so we could taste as much as possible.

First to arrive at the table was a double serving of the beef and onion dumplings. We ordered two servings as at £2.50 each we thought we might only get three / four dumplings with each serving. We shouldn't have feared as we got a generous mound. The dumplings definitely benefited from a dunking in Chinese vinegar and I think if I was going to order two servings again I'd definitely mix up the flavours.
Hot and sour shredded potatoes
Next to arrive at the table was the hot and sour shredded potatoes. I'd expected / hoped for fried potatoes, but despite being cut like shoe string fries these potatoes had been nowhere near hot oil. They were hot, not particularly sour and just the right side of raw. It was an alien taste to my palate and not one I immediately warmed to if I'm honest.

Getting us right back on track were two large grilled swordfish shish kebabs. The fish was spicier than I expected with a ground chilli crust. After the hot potatoes the fish was the dish that tipped me over my pathetic chilli threshold and my brow began to glisten.
Fish shish
I was beginning to fill up, but the dishes kept arriving at our table with the home style aubergine and special cooked lamb with noodles. The aubergine, tomato and chilli was out attempt at a vegetable dish. It still counts of the aubergines were fried, right?

The lamb was our first taste of the homemade noodles and they were a delight, if incredibly long and a little messy to eat. As my shirt can attest and I'd like to make it clear for the record that it was two of my dining companions that splattered me! There wasn't too much lamb in the dish, but you can't complain at these prices.
Home style aubergine
Our final dish was also the best, the mid plate chicken (top photo). A large both of Shichuan pepper and chicken broth arrived at our, quickly followed by some more homemade noodles that were poured on top. The broth had the classic aromatic mouth-numbing quality that you get with heaps of Sichuan pepper. The small pieces of chicken were quite boney and a little awkward to eat, but you forgive a lot when the noodles and broth were that good.
Special cooked lamb with noodles
Silk Road is the type of place I love. Sure it's a little cramp, crowded and rough around the edges. But the food was fantastic and at £15 per head (including a generous tip and two beers each) it was amazing value too.

Silk Road has been added to my London eats map.

Silk Road
49 Camberwell Church St
London
SE5 8TR
Silk Road on Urbanspoon

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