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Eating in Central London


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Perhaps Mr. Peng responds negatively to diners whose egos equal his own.

Don't talk claptrap John. That's the second time you've implied that if you don't like this restaurant than it must be your fault. Do you feel that way about restaurants you don't like?

I am not interested in Mr Peng's responses to people. I know damn well when I've been badly treated and when I have been conned. My request to move tables was polite and perfectly reasonable. The food I was served up was second rate, overpriced, gracelessly served, bulk cooked and in total contrast to what the adjacent table was receiving.

It is not incumbent on the diner to get into the good books of the restaurant owner in order to receive adequate and EQUAL food and service. If Mr Peng took it into his head to dislike me so much he could have asked me to leave instead of charging me top money for discriminatory service and take away standard food.

All you're doing is trying to defend the indefensible.

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Oh no, not one of these again!

1) John thinks its great

2) Tony thinks its terrible

Therefore either

a) Tony and John had the same experience and different opinions. So what? It happens. Read contrasting reviews of a new opening, often describing the same dish on the same night.

b) Tony and John had different experiences and drew different opinons. So what? It happens. People react to the same food, different. I, for one, am currently addicted to McD's bacon cheeseburgers (99p!) and Pizza Hut deep pan super supreme (large, for one :raz: )

Regards

J

PS Tony, re diners rights to equal food and service, what's your view on the Ivy? Thats a place which is open about NOT treating all diners the same, at least in the bookings process. The logic there is that if someone is a "regular" then they deserve better service.

Two further examples are a) French Laundry VIP'ing regulars contrasted with b) Haeberlin (I think) saying everyone is equal cuz for the regular it may be something normal but the one-off diner may have saved for months and for them it may be a once in a lifetime experience ie more significant. Is favouritism ever a defensible position?

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I react negatively to the judgement that those whose experience differs from your own are fools.

No-one called anybody a "fool". Some of us have experienced Hunan as a con. For those who did not, fair enough. But my treatment there was shoddy and the food I received was poor. That had nothing to do with my ego or giving out bad vibes or anything else to do with me. I've already acknowledged that I'm in a minority in disliking this restaurant but I'm clearly not alone, so maybe there's some validity to what we're saying rather than the problem lying with us.

Edited by Tonyfinch (log)
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PS Tony, re diners rights to equal food and service, what's your view on the Ivy?  Thats a place which is open about NOT treating all diners the same, at least in the bookings process.  The logic there is that if someone is a "regular" then they deserve better service.

Speaking for myself I was not angry. But both Mogsob and John suggested that if you don't like Hunan the fault may lie with you. I fail to see why that should be the case in Hunan if it is not in any other restaurant.

As for the Ivy, I've never been there but my impression is not so much that regulars get better treatment, but that famous people do. As a general principle I dislike favourable treatment based on who you are. Your money's the same colour isn't it? But at least The Ivy appears to make no secret of the fact that it wants to attract celebrities and I suppose people go there to see and be seen so at least its upfront about it.

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But at least The Ivy appears to make no secret of the fact that it wants to attract celebrities and I suppose people go there to see and be seen so at least its upfront about it.

My first thought on the Ivy is that if they are lucky enough to get the rich and famous good luck to them. And if the R & F need some "protecting" what's the problem?

My own experience has always been that the service was great (the booking process is another matter) and I really like the food!

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John, as I always turst your recs. I think I'll go to Hunan this wednesday. Can you please tell me where it is?

Yup, you and Mr Peng should get on just fine Peter.

I don't know about famous people needing "protecting" but I'm always remended of the time John Lennon, when he wasn't seeing things straight, was supposed to have walked into a New York restaurant with a Kotex on his head

Waitress: Would you mind removing that Kotex from your head, sir

Lennon: How dare you! Don't you know who I am?

Waitess: Of course I do sir. You're some asshole with a Kotex on his head.

I hope she got a pay rise but she was probably fired.

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I think I'll go to Hunan this wednesday. Can you please tell me where it is?

It's at 51 Pimlico Road, SW1 8NE, tel 7730 5712, a ten-minute walk from Victoria Station. If your experience coincides with Tony's, please don't hesitate to say so! :laugh:

If you're in London at the moment, email me your address (click on website below) and I'll get a copy of Through Darkest Gaul to you as requested.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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John Lennon, when he wasn't seeing things straight, was supposed to have walked into a New York restaurant with a Kotex on his head

Waitress: Would you mind removing that Kotex from your head, sir

Lennon: How dare you! Don't you know who I am?

Waitess: Of course I do sir. You're some asshole with a Kotex on his head.

Actually it was in an LA bar during his 'lost two months' phase when Yoko kicked him out and he partied big time (i.e. lots and lots of alcohol) with Harry Nilsson et al in LA.

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a great little fish restaurant is le suquet on draycott avenue - around the corner of bibendum on fulham road - and relatively inexpensive for the quality of the food and the informed service. what you'll get is very traditional french cuisine - fish cooked in the classic way, usually the most humble and revealing way. i've always eaten very well, its seriously french at all levels making it one of the best exports i've ever seen. lunch is a great value - if i remember correctly between 15-20 for set 3 course menu.

-che

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If your experience coincides with Tony's, please don't hesitate to say so!  :laugh:

Well, I went on Wednesday night to the famous or infamous, Hunan. (sorry I have not posted sooner but I was taking a rugby group to Marseilles for the England v France game).

I found it to be one of the best chinese (or anything for that matter) that I have ever experienced.

I didn't take notes so I cannot list everything I had here but the flavours were amazing and the cooking out of this world.

The first course was a soup and, prior to Wednesday, the only other time I had tasted this unique flavour (I think it's the oil mixed in with the broth as it makes the soup very hot - temperature-wise) was when I was having a hot pot in the street in a small village in the province of Hunan called Wussan (which is no longer there as it was flooded by the project on the Yangtse). So I can certainly vouch for authenticity!

After that came plates and plates of different specialities all with stunning flavours that were highly unique. And, guess what, NO rice at all! (In China rice comes at the end of the banquet and is considered a 'filler' and in some areas it's rude to eat it - it's like saying that there was not enough food and you are still hungry and you must have rice to 'fill up').

It wasn't cheap - I paid £85 for two with one bottle of wine (I know, I know I shouldn't have had wine but nobody's perfect!).

Reading other, less complimentary reports, I can only surmise that they ordered the wrong things. I didn't order anything. Mr Peng's son asked me if there was anything I couldn't eat and when I said no the food just kept coming.

Some people were in there ordering 'normal' Chinese food but if you want Sweet and Sour pork why not go to the local 'Chinese Dragon' or whatever - it will be cheaper!

This would certainly clarify the comments made that 'the food that other people had was very different' - on Wednesday night I was one of the 'other people' and had a truly memorable experience.

(Is this OK John? Woops!).

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  • 2 months later...

Just a follow-up note on returning from London trip.

Our vote for best value pre-theater dinner was Incognico(French) on Shaftesbury Avenue; the decor, atmosphere, and service were wonderful. For starters, tomato soup or fresh asparagus risotto; 3 of us had braised rabbit with polenta and cep, and either lemon ice cream or apricot cake. They were very accomodating for one of my daughters, who is very diet conscious, preparing a special starter(fresh tomatoes provencal) and main(a huge plate of fresh sauteed vegetables and potato gratin) at no extra charge. The quality and presentation of all the food were exceptional, and the cost was only L12.50 per person.

We enjoyed the old-time atmosphere and fresh fish (oysters, sea bass, skate) at Sweetings on Queen Victoria Street in the City. More to follow

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Continued from previous post:

We enjoyed the excellent sea bass, skate, Dover sole, and crab bisque at J. Sheekey but had a problem with the service- they made a mistake on one of our orders so that our food was so delayed that we had to eat in 5 minutes and dash off to the ballet.

I reported on lunch at Patterson's under the Patterson's thread. Cafe Espana was good and convenient for pre-theater- quick service, reasonable prices, tasty and generous portions of Spanish omelette, calamari, grilled prawns, flan. We had tapas only; their nightly specials ( lamb or grilled salmon with vegetables and poytatoes) looked terrific at only L5.95.

I regret that we didn't have enough time to try more of the top gourmet egullet suggestions- save the list for the next trip. Thanks again for all the tips! Happy holidays.

Roz

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  • 9 months later...

So, yesterday's trip to Denmark was cancelled at the last minute so I hooked up with my brother. His only guidance as to where we should eat was "Chinese or Thai and I don't want to have to re-mortgage to pay for it"

I reject Yauatcha on the grounds that they make it very hard to book for a table at late notice and despite the fact that I don't really like Chinese food, decided to go to Hunan. Why eat a cuisine that you don't expect to like? Well, I've really enjoyed Hakkasan and Yauatcha and had really good Chinese in New York (Joe's Shanghai) so I was working on the assumption that I've just generally eaten not very good Chinese food. I hate the opaque, glutinous sauces that things tend to be drowned in, the holy triumvirate of "yellow bean, black bean, oyster sauce" and king prawn dishes with prawns as big as my little finger nail*

My brother isn't a hugely adventurous eater so he was starting to get slightly panicked over the lack of a menu. We asked for one, and instead, Mr Peng came over.

"Wha you want?"

My brother was so taken aback that he ran through his list of things; nothing too exotic like chicken feet, prawns, shellfish and spicy would be welcomed. I added no red meat and very little chicken please.

So you can imagine how surprised we were to be served beef with spring onions, a dish that not only was quite heavy on one of the things we'd nixed, but that looked like it wouldn't look out of place in a cardboard topped foil tray. Equally, the scallops with garlic came in a glutinous, opaque sauce that seemed vaguely reminiscent of what I'd come here to avoid. Admittedly the spicy tempura beans were amazing, juicy, spicy, green and crispy all at the same time, but the promised second plate never appeared. Another hit were salt and pepper prawns (I think) served with scallions and a myriad dried peppers. Clean, bright flavours and some good looking fresh prawns. The stuffed mushrooms were tasty, but again served in a sludge. My brother got the pidgeon soup, I got a clear chicken broth. The dish of the evening was probably the "pork in paper bag - don't eat the bag" but I was tempted to, the sauce had such a meaty, spicy depth of flavour a paper bag seemed a reasonable way to get more inside me.

I came away perplexed. One or two dishes were excellent, but there was little here to lift it beyond the rest. It's in no way in the same league as Hakkasan; it's too inconsistent from dish to dish and relies on run of the mill sauces to mask some not especially great ingredients. I would come back with people who speak Chinese, or maybe with a regular. I really do think it's the sort of place where you could get very special treatment depending on what language you speak and if you are known to them. But on last night's performance, I don't think I'd go back under my own steam.

* I have been told I am slightly genetically odd as new born babies often have a bigger little fingernail than I do

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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When I went I was stunned by its inconsistency too: amazing deep-fried pig intestine (sweet, dry, fluffy, crunchy, savoury, sticky, crisp: delicious); gloopy salmon in something icky which was more than a little high: texturally disgusting and generally gross.

We hadn't specified anything we didn't like and went with a Chinese friend of my father who frequently visits Hunan (the province), who knows a lot about food and who charmed Mr Peng with enquiries as to whether he was related to the Peng dynasty famous for its chicken dishes. So I'd imagine we were treated relatively well.

I'm planning to go back to give it another go but just hope they decide to serve me things which are good.

They certainly know how to fry, though.

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I think it is quite a common problem with UK Chinese Restaurants - If you let them choose or recommend anythings, they always seem to put in some gloopy, over sweet bastardised anglo chinese/american chinese dish. Doesn't seem to matter if everything else you have chosen implies you have adventurous tastes and that you are quit happy to delve into the chicken feet/intestine section of the menu - they still seem to think what you really want is the sweet and sour pork in the novelty deep fried noodle basket 'special'.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Carlovski there is method behind the madness of inconsistent chinese restaurants.

The reasoning is that the majority of customers walking into a chinese restaurant do want and like the pseudo chinese food as such there is always a lot of those dishes prepared for the evening customers.

So if you are not chinese and leave it to the restaurant to choose for you

(even if you specify you only want real chinese food!)

they will mix in some of the authentic stuff and some of the pseudo stuff

as the pseudo stuff is usually faster, cheaper and requires less skill to prepare

and also its a safe bet that if you don't like the real stuff you will like the fake :raz: so even if you hate half the dishes you won't leave hungry.

I give you an example, a few years ago my restaurant for chinese new year offered a real chinese new years meal as lots of customers had expressed interest in it. Well the menu had loads of stuff including a starter of shark fin soup,

one of the mains was a shitake, pig trotter, dried oyster, hair fungus hot pot

and the dessert was black sesame glutinous rice soup balls.

Well 70% of the customers drank the soup but left the shark fins! :blink:

most didn't even attempt to try the hotpot!! :angry:

and most left the soup balls after they pierced it and saw the black sesame run out :sad: It was such a waste!!!! :angry:

The next year we decided it would be less wasteful if we just put the standard set menu for chinese new year.

Of course if you are chinese or go with a chinese speaker you will not encounter this problem as they wouldn't dare serve a sweet and sour chicken or a chop suey! :laugh:

Edited by origamicrane (log)

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Hi Tarka

no i'm wasn't chef in the restaurant that be my old man :smile:

But I was the guage of what customers would be willing to except in my restaurant

being British born and having British tastes my old man thought what i would eat would be acceptable to the average customer, it was true to a point.

But I told him not to put any black stuff on the menu but would he listen?

of course not! :hmmm:

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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  • 8 months later...

So I have read and heard about this restaurant for like years now

but for some reason never managed to drag my ass down there.

So tonight as a early fathers day pressie for me pop's

I finally got to go there and my review is below. :smile:

Context: You see I always find it necessary to give some context when I write a review of a restaurant, why do i need to do this, you ask?

Well because I’m a Leo and that means I’m self centered and egotistical but beyond that obvious statement I believe that you have to know if i know what i am jabbering about :rolleyes: do you understand?

So context is high expectations of this place as I have heard very good reviews.

The people that had dinner tonight included my parents and we have been in the Chinese restaurant trade for 30 years. My Mum and Dad have been cooking for most of that period and I was literally bought up in the kitchen.

What does that mean? Draw your own conclusions. :wink:

gallery_18280_1376_96780.jpg

Restaurant:

Hunan

51 Pimlico Road

London

SW1W 8NE

Date & Time: Wednesday evening 7:30pm

Cast: Me, Mum, Dad, Sister and Partner

Decor: Very plain and simple, white walls, a bar in the middle, looks like a 40 seater on the ground floor. I believe they have a second floor too but I didn't go up.

Menu: What menu? :blink: this is quite strange for me, this is actually the first time that I have had a restaurant meal where I did not order anything or look at the menu. The manager came over and said "Well what you want?"

Me: :huh: "err... seafood?"

Manager: "what? You only want seafood?"

at this point my mum says something and then the conversation slips in to Cantonese and I will have to transcribe or provide subtitles. :raz:

Basically after a very quick chat the manager very brusquely says "so you will eat anything" and walks off. :blink:

At this point we are all rather bemused at his attitude as it’s not the kind of service we were expecting. He wasn't rude just very blunt, anyway more on him later.

So we order: well we didn't order anything but here are photos of what we ate.

Well pictures do say a thousand words.

I'm not 100% sure what each dish was as I was busy taking photos and eating:raz:

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Little plates of nibbles to start with are pickled cucumbers and roasted nuts,

very nice :wink: that we ask for more :smile:

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then some peppery kimichi carrots, cucumber, mooli, chilli and peppercorns

this was pretty hot and for some reason we got another plate :wink:

Told you i get free stuff.

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Soup in a bamboo cup. Pork broth with minced pork, ginger, spring onions and shiitake. Very hot and very tasty broth there was a tasty gelatinous layer of slimy stuff just under the surface that we identified it as solidified pig blood and egg white yummy!!!

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Steamed salmon wrapped in seabass. The problem with salmon is that if its overcooked its so obvious, the salmon unfortunately was a little overcooked but flavour wise this was very fresh.

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Beef spring roll again very well cooked and very interesting flavour,

although the bottom of the roll was a little soggy.

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Duck feet with mange tout and pickled greens. This was again something I have never tried before and i was trying to work out what was in the sauce, my parents said it was a mix of mustard and aniseed. Personally i didn't like it but my dad really likes it (but my dad like eating deep fried bugs back in china :blink::raz: hehe!)

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Salt and Chilli tempura beans!! yummy!!!!

:laugh: i am so gonna cook this at my next dinner party!!

So simple yet so tasty

this plate was gone in a flash

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spring onion and oyster omlette with a sweet and sour sauce.

ohmigod!! this was sooooo good!!!! Oysters were so fresh!!! Like little bubbles of bursting sea thingies!! and the sweet & sour sauce went so well with it.

gallery_18280_1376_5007.jpg

Aubergine and pickled water spinach ( i think :unsure: as I wasn’t paying attention to what the waitress said)

I don't like aubergine :raz: but the rest thought it was ok.

gallery_18280_1376_55144.jpg

Cold cut of grilled pork neck, this reminded me of the Thai dish moo ping

one of my favourites actually, this was similar.

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Some grilled chicken thing i think in mandarin sauce, good, lovely.

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Steamed something wrapped with prawns. Very fresh prawns with a kinda of seafood mince filling thing, had the texture of soft cheese. We couldn't completely identify the filling but it was definitely fish.

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Beef with ginger and spring onion.

Great beef, very tender.

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spinach sesame roll.

interesting, similar to a shanghai spring onion and lard bun but with spinach instead.

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Deep fried frogs legs with a pork mince sauce.

This was great the frog legs where like tiny miniature chicken drumsticks in a bbq mince sauce.

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Cold cut of marinated roast duck, standard fair but very good.

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crab "tom yum" noodle soup.

This was amazing!!!! a massive bowl of soup noodles with a light tom yum like soup with a super, super fresh whole crab!! The meat was so fresh you could pull out the entire claw meat from the shell! Superb!!!

There was also a zoong ( glutinous rice and dried meats wrapped in bamboo leaves) tasted fine but they didn't wrap it tightly enough so it was a little soggy, but very seasonal! and a dessert of almond agar agar and red bean pancake,

but i forgot to take photos of that. ho-hum!

Drinks:

gallery_18280_1376_41747.jpg

£38 for a 1979 bottle of saint emilion grand cru :blink:

4 bottles of still water.

Total Bill: £250

Service: Interesting. The manager Mr Pang I would best describe as a blunt and fiery Chinaman. If you are the sensitive sought you might even be offended by his tone and attitude. My initial reaction to him wasn't favourable at all as he came across far too Won Kei's style, very blunt and brusque but as the night progressed he warmed up.

After dinner he spent a good 15 minutes chatting to my dad and we found out he been open 25 years and he is a good friend to the manager of golden palace who is a friend of my fathers. It also turned out that one of the chefs in the kitchen is a member of my dad's Chinese society :blink: that he's planning to move to north west London near were I live and he teaches cooking to private students!

He also admitted to not like serving Chinese customers :laugh: as restaurant owners ourselves we perfectly understand what he means

but maybe a little too honest! :wink:

By the end of the night I came to the conclusion that he is just a very blunt and honest person and also that the locals like him ( he was hi-5ing several customers as they left)so this might be a case of a "local shop for local people" hehehe!

Value/Quality/Quantity ratio: very good. It wasn't cheap for a chinese meal but it was very high quality and we had 15 dishes.

Complaints: none

Nit picks: not really a nit pick more of an observation

Mr Pang basically wants to let you know that he is the boss

and he lets you know right from the start.

So basically if you are the type that wants to have it your way

he will tell you to go to burger king.

It’s basically his restaurant his rules.

Arrogance? Oh yes! But he's got the skills to back it up.

Conclusion: This is probably the most interesting, original and memorable Chinese dinner meal I have had in London. Virtually all the dishes were new to me and everything was fresh and perfectly cooked. Also I didn't detect any msg in their cooking. Simply the best Chinese food in London. nuff said!

edited to correct some typos and to add the best Chinese food is actually my mama's!!

Edited by origamicrane (log)

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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The question becomes: what qualifies you, in Mr Pang's eyes, for such an interesting meal? Would he have served this meal to anyone?

btw - thanks for the pics ("Samuel?")

Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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