There’s a culinary gem in London’s historic Square Mile, nestled inside the Crown Plaza London Hotel. It’s the Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant on New Bridge Street. The hotel was built on the foundations of King Henry VIII’s former Bridewell Palace and the Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant is inside. The menu is modern with Sichuan and Dim Sum specialities. Recently, I along with other guests were invited to taste some of the dishes that would be on the menu for their Chinese New Year celebration. I will never forget the sensation of the tantalising tongue tingling flavours I experienced. The Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant is the place to ring in the Year of the Fire Rooster Year in style.

The Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant was launched in 2009. It is an AA Rosette restaurant and holds a certificate of excellence awarded by Trip Advisor.  No surprise, because of the quality of the food and its location. The restaurant is close to major London sightseeing and shopping attractions such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern Gallery and Covent Garden. It was named in honour of the original Chinese National Cricket team who played their first international match in 2009. It continues its connection to the sport through their sponsorship of the Kia Oval – Surrey County Cricket Club.  The restaurant décor is contemporary with oriental accents. It sophisticated. The place to go for business, romance or a quiet meal to catch up with an ole friend.  At the helm is Executive Chef Ken Wang. Chef Wang brought to the restaurant his signature style of cooking which fuses modern techniques with traditional, authentic Sichuan flavours. The restaurant is proud to be the only restaurant in The City to create home-made Dim Sum every day. Female Dim Sum Chef, Mai Lan is charge the operation. On the evening, Chef Wang talked to us about the ingredients and the cultural connection behind them.

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The flavours I tasted at the Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant, I’ve never experienced before. From Cold to hot, sweet to savour then spicy hot. I say spicy hot but not the kind to burn your mouth and ruin the taste of the meal. The dishes ensured an unforgettable dining experience with conversation. It would be impossible dine in silence while enjoying those a culinary delights. Its a foodies paradise.  A variety of ingredients were used: chicken, jelly-fish, prawn, cod, pork and more. I admire how Chef Wang entwined favourite Great British meats like Lamb and Venison with the Sichuan cooking method. There was Sautéed Venison tenderloin with red wine black pepper sauce which was so moist and tender. While the Slowed-stew Lamb shank with Chinese red dates was sticky sweet with a slight tang. The meat simply fell of the bone. Chinese red dates are a special ingredient in Chinese food. Eating it on its auspicious time is meant to give you a good days all year long.

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Dinner was served with along with a special Baijiu cocktail, BUY JEE-OH1 .  Baijiu is the national drink of China and is usually drunk at. meals. Among my favourite dishes there was the starter Corn-fed free range chicken salad served in Sichuan hot & numbing sauce, as well as, the main Dan-dan noodles with minced pork in chilli soup. I love spicy food! It was a thrill to eat food that didn’t taste ‘watered-down’ for general consumption. It was made with pride and authenticity. The chicken was succulent and sauce seemed to make my taste buds dance. Several sensation were going on in different parts of my mouth. I noticed the lack of duck on the menu. Chef Wang tells me that Aromatic Duck is not an authentically Chinese dish and it’s not eaten of this occasion. I didn’t fancy was the Jellyfish Sesame Salad, simply because I couldn’t get out of my mind what I feasting on. The dish was inspired by another known as Yusheng(or Prosperity Toss)2  which consists of raw fish mixed with shredded vegetables. It represents abundance, prosperity and vigour, in that case, seconds please. The meal came to close with the Red Beans Rice Ball ((Tangyuan)3 served in boiling water. It’s a popular snack usually eaten during the Lantern Festival and other auspicious occasions. It was filling and a bit stodgy but an ideal winter warmer.

The Year of the Fire Rooster comes once every 60 years4, now that’s worth celebrating. Chef Wang’s dishes will foster well-being, luck and prosperity. From 7th January to 2nd February, the Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant will be serving their Chinese New Year menu. On the evening 27th January there will be a Dragon Dance at 7pm.  Mains range from £5 for Dan-dan noodles with minced pork in chilli soup £5.00 to £28 for the Sautéed Venison tenderloin. The menu is based on a minimum 2 people sharing and all prices are inclusive of VAT. Click HERE to see the full menu and prices. I wish you all happiness and prosperity!,

Further Reading

  1. http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/rooster.htm
  2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yusheng
  3. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangyuan_(food)#/search
  4. http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/rooster.htm