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Eating in Central London


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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?")

morning moby

no problem no need to be formal just call me sam :smile:

what qualifies me? :unsure: hmmm... think you will have to ask him :wink::raz: hehe!

but if i was to hazard a guess ,

I think it would be the fact that everyone on the table was Chinese and fleunt

and my parents were there and they are about the same age as the manager.

Please read my previous posts to get a handle on his reasoning.

I think he would serve this type of meal to Chinese and to his regulars.

were u getting different stuff from the tables of laowai?

J

Morning Jon

in a word yes.

Half the courses were the same as our neighbouring table

but other half all different especially our mains.

But this isn;t all that surprising as we were a table of 5 and all our fellow diners were middle aged IC1 couples.

They had the same starters but for mains they got a a very tasty looking steamed fish and finished with the obligatory crispy aromatic duck.

There is one thing I should have asked the manager

has he always done business this way?

as its really only the last few years that I have heard about Hunan and he's been open 25 years.

In fact Hunan is pretty unknown in the chinese crowd or at least my one.

I have only really heard about Hunan via websites and guide books

never via the chinese grapevine :huh:

What about you Jon when did you hear about Hunan and was it through the chinese grapevine.

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

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

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Hi,

Disclosure: I studied at the same college as Mr Peng's son and would describe myself as a friend. I do not know his father at all other than through visits to Hunan for dinner. Two of these visits took place before I met Mr Peng's son.

With that out of the way...

I've been reading this discussion with interest, having visited Hunan only last week. I'm happy to report that I ate much the same food as Origamicrane.

I've been to Hunan a few times. I'm told the food was more consistent in quality when Mr Peng was in the kitchen. He's a true Chinese master chef. The real deal.

Nowadays you'll have some dishes that will truly blow your mind, others that simply don't. It's part of the fun. It's not like you're only served four dishes. My last visit I think I managed to get through around sixteen. To be honest, I lost count. To increase the quota of fantastic food, go when the restaurant opens, not two hours later when the place is heaving.

What hasn't been mentioned, perhaps only alluded to, is that Hunan is a family-run restaurant. If you want the best the restaurant can offer, then you have to put the effort in to become one of the family, if only for the duration of your meal. Be ready for Mr Peng's questions. Answer seriously but in a friendly way. He's a busy man. Your aim is to charm him. Too much work? Well, if that's the case - and I mean no disrespect - perhaps you shouldn't eat there.

Hunan, on balance, is one of the best Chinese restaurants in London. It has to be. It's the only one I've been to in the last two weeks that hasn't been empty. (Yes, Summer is here.)

If anyone is interest in an egullet evening at Hunan, I'd be happy to co-ordinate it via Mr Peng's son. Just let me know...

All the best,

--

Ian

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What about an eGullet trip sometime - prefereably with some of you knowledgeable Chinese people there, to ensure we get the authentic food, not the slimy goop?

I'm not sure that you need to be with Chinese people to get the good food, in my experience at Hunan I have eaten pretty similar food to Origamicrane (most tables have slight variations). Mr Peng has asked "What you not like?" and then proceeded with multiple courses until we can't eat any more ("You still hungry?"). If you see something on an adjacent table that you like the lok of, ask for it. Can't gurantee that it will work but it does sometimes.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Interesting observations on Hunan.

I did not try it yet but will probably do so shortly.

It is a well established fact that food in London as well as anywhere else is split in three type of restaurants:

1- Where you go to enjoy the food

2- Where you go to be entertained by the food

3- Non discript

The ethnic restaurants do have a tendency of reading the customer and it reflect in the food served. And you you do get an enterily different experience if you are a regular or know the boss or belong to the ethnic group.

As for the other Ivys/Bruces/and vulgar ramseyesk eateries, they are simply for eye and wallet candy. Three stars for a starched napkin and hand towels in the loos oh sorry I meant toilettes!

Edited by Almass (log)
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  • 1 month later...

Folks -- I've removed a number of posts that were about planning a dinner. It sounds great, but this isn't the place for doing that -- the PM system is.

Because we should have cleaned this up a long time ago, I've kept track of the participants, so that you can reach one another via PM:

Ian

PoppySeedBagel

Origamicrane

Jon Tseng

Carlovski

Janice

Brithack

Ai Leen

Thanks for your understanding.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Last night half a dozen egulleteers descended on Hunan for a foodfest.

It was lovely meeting everyone and thanks to Ian for organising and getting us a sizeable discount on the bill. :laugh:

I didn't realise it at the time but we ate 23 dishes!!!

Here are some of the photos.

The descriptions are what i think the dishes are

as a lot of them weren't clearly identified.

gallery_18280_1376_26829.jpg

Pig's intestines with some black vinegar sauce

gallery_18280_1376_5951.jpg

Steamed minced prawn ball

gallery_18280_1376_10750.jpg

Double cooked pork

gallery_18280_1376_31291.jpg

Lamb with garlic shoots

gallery_18280_1376_4655.jpg

pan fried liver, porcini and pumkin cake

gallery_18280_1376_9766.jpg

steamed bean curd

gallery_18280_1376_8072.jpg

squid

gallery_18280_1376_35523.jpg

duck tongue in some kind of black vinegar sauce

gallery_18280_1376_39778.jpg

deep fried fish with a sweet and sour sauce

gallery_18280_1376_129.jpg

jar jiang crab noodle

gallery_18280_1376_13445.jpg

Braised pork in lotus leaf

gallery_18280_1376_23448.jpg

Baby Pak Choi

the other dishes we had included

chicken a ginseng soup,

salt and chilli bean tempura,

soup in a bamboo cup,

steamed salmon wrapped in seabass,

beef spring roll,

Aubergine and pickled water spinach,

Cold cut of grilled pork neck,

Deep fried frogs legs with a pork mince sauce,

Cold cut of marinated roast duck,

Fried rice,

Red bean pancake and almond agar.

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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Interesting. Many thanks to Ian for organising... and for the discount. Clearly a very very good egg :raz:

Thoughts in no apparent order

Worthwhile experience (at least for the price we paid). A profusion of dishes and a number of preparations I haven't seen in other Chinese restaurants in London.

Overall level of cooking good but not miraculous; more quality than quantity; with 20-something dishes inevitably there were some stars - pork intestine very good, as was one of the braised pork dishes. Standout was crab on dan-dan noodles; such a good idea.

Some of the dishes less well integrated however; notable was squid, lamb and duck tongue dishes were sauce not strong enough and meat relatively tasteless. In general dishes slightly undersalted (eg chicken soup), which is unusual.

A lot of the dishes used vinegar as a strong flavour element; I assume this is typical of hunanese food

Not as spicy as I expected (hunanese normally fairly hot)

Manager noticeably avuncular. Sometimes overly so.

Overall a fun night. Definitely worth going once. Not sure if I would go again - sort of place thats good with a big group to taste and share

cheers

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Steamed minced prawn ball

... I think these were crab meat balls.

pan fried liver, porcini and pumkin cake

... My favourite dish. Interesting combination. Different tastes (liver, sweet pumpkin) and textures.

jar jiang crab noodle

... I think this was dish 20 and it was still delicious. Fiddly though.

Braised pork in lotus leaf

... Bad bad bad... meat was tough (belly cut would have been better?) and tasteless, though had wonderful aroma.

Baby Pak Choi

... Filler dish.

Red bean pancake and almond agar.

--- Excellent! Delightful combination; never seen before.

See comments in quote.

Special fried rice was very well done indeed, although not special in the way that fried rice isn't special.

Overall impression: I think I consumed a lot of vinegar that night. But otherwise yum yum.

Parting words: Thank you very very much to Ian for organising this and getting us a huge discount. It was also great to meet everyone else, esp Sam and Janice. Will definitely be back, but most probably worthwhile only with a group and empty stomach.

Edited by Ai Leen (log)

Fresh from London. Eating as always.

http://www.artisanedibles.blogspot.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there,

I've been reading about Hunan for a while now and have decided to give it a go. I will be organising a dinner for around 5 or 6 people in a few weeks time.

I'm a little confused about the best way to ensure that you get the best dishes though. Reading the timeout review it mentions that when booking you should request the 'Chefs menu'. Is this the same as just turning up and telling Mr. Peng what you cannot eat ?

It certainly seems like there are a small number of dishes which people are consistently praising which I would really like to ensure that we get in our selection. Our diners are all adventurous so would probably not mind getting various parts of animals which we may not be used to eating. But I would also like to try things like the tea smoked duck, tempura chilli/beans, some pork belly, etc.

Can someone give me some advice on the best way to approach the ordering situation ? What dishes should I definitely try and include ? And also is it best to explain this when booking the table or when we turn up at the restaurant ? How many dishes (if we are asked) should we order (assuming we are 6 hungry adventurous diners) ?

Thanks in advance,

Rick

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