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Red N Hot


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Authentic Szechuan Cuisine has landed in China Towns of Manchester, Birmingham and London. So reads the website of “Red And Hot” possibly one of the most dubiously named restaurants I’ve ever dined in.

We arrived at 7.30, without a reservation and were given a table in them middle of the room. Our first task was being able to sit comfortably. While amputees would find no problem, as a 14 stone 5’ 10” sort of guy I couldn’t fit my legs under the table. There is a shelf about twelve inches below the table top which serves no purpose other than to force you to sit at an impossible rake or to throw modesty to the wind and fling your legs either side of the table. An option which might be tricky if you’re placed at something other than a table for two, but even then leaves you sitting like a cellist with elephantiasis of the scrotum.

We poured over the menu. Oo-ing and ah-ing over the highly-spiced and exotic offerings. Intestine featured heavily and while we were both game to try it, we decided that in order to eat on a mid-week budget but be able to try as much as possible we would go for a set meal.

This was an enormous mistake. The set meal featured none of the interesting stuff. While it wasn’t exactly bland, it was all pretty naff. We had a first course of deep-fried stuff with a lake of sweet chilli dipping gunk. We then had soup, which was pleasant but exactly the sort of chicken and sweetcorn soup you’d get anywhere else.

Our final course was rather greasy fried vegetables, a beef and mushroom dish and a prawn thing. Unexceptional in every respect apart from blurring the distinction between the territories of "bland" and "boring".

Expressing our disappointment to the manager, he appeared to offer us an extra dish: a beef house special. I did wonder if the appearance of Charles Campion at the next table had something to do with this, but when the bill arrived we’d been charged for the extra dish. Not really a problem, but not really what we thought was happening either. We’d also been charged for our drinks, which supposedly were part of the set meal.

The spiced beef was astonishingly oily and while covered with enough chilli to launch a rocket, the flavour was surprisingly dull.

In retrospect, we ordered badly. Almost everyone else was eating hotpot: stock-filled, electrically heated, cauldrons served with and raw (and frozen) ingredients to be cooked at the table. That looked fun. But then the air conditioning couldn’t cope with the large volumes of steam and the waiters had to keep running to open the door. And honestly I couldn’t sit at those tables for that long. As it was I limped home like a cowboy with rickets. For the first time in my life I felt sorry for Charles Campion’s thighs.

London Red N Hot: 0207-7348796, 59 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0NE

http://www.rednhotgroup.com/

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This is a good restaurant. Unfortunately in common with many good chinese restaurants they make it as difficult as possible for non-initiates to get the most from it. Stick to the typically sichuanese dishes, ask for extra spicy and then you'll have a great meal-though don't criticise it for being oily, sichuan food is extremely oily but you're not meant to eat the oil. If one's concerned that that means leaving all the sauce on the plate, don't be. That's how it's eaten.

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This is a good restaurant. Unfortunately in common with many good chinese restaurants they make it as difficult as possible for non-initiates to get the most from it. Stick to the typically sichuanese dishes, ask for extra spicy and then you'll have a great meal-though don't criticise it for being oily, sichuan food is extremely oily but you're not meant to eat the oil. If one's concerned that that means leaving all the sauce on the plate, don't be. That's how it's eaten.

How does it compare with bar shu?

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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