Saturday, 10 April 2010

Chilli Cool review - London King's Cross Sichuan food


Address: 15 Leigh Street, London WC1H 9EW
Tel: 020 7383 3135
Nearest Tube station: King's Cross, Russell Square

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £15 pp
Service charge: 10%
Taste: ****
Service: **
Ambience: *
Suitable for: those looking for affordable Sichuan
cuisine in central London
After my wetting my tastebuds for Sichuan food at Empress of Sichuan, I am totally game for more Sichuan cuisine after coming across London Foodie's review of Chilli Cool at Bloomsbury. Unlike London Foodie who visited Chilli Cool during the dead of winter, I might have missed the best period to 'sweat it out' at a Sichuan eatery with milder temperature returning to London and flowers blooming all round the capital. But given the Chilli Cool's good reviews, I had to go find out for myself just how good it is.

Chilli Cool is good. Pure and simple. I would probably leave it at that and insist that you go check it out but I thought it probably wouldn't do Chilli Cool any justice in doing so.

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Like what London Foodie mentioned, Chilli Cool Hotpot sits right beside Chilli Cool's main restaurant (at the further end of the picture above). There was only a lone Japanese elderly man occupying seat by the window when we stepped into the restaurant. With the balmy weather outside, it was the perfect setting for a lazy late lunch with a bottle a Tiger beer with a novel at hand and that was exactly what the Japanese gentleman was doing.

Chilli Cool's kitchen is located in the basement. There was a commotion whenever a dish was to be served - there will be a thump in the internal vertical passage accompanied with a shout of from the kitchen indicating the name of the dish being sent up. I caught a glimpse of the dish as a staff served it to the elderly gentleman. It was tofu and slices of meat, and perhaps the most prominent of all was the generous portion of dried chilli sitting right on top of it.

After starving for most of the morning, we were desperate for some carbo and quickly ordered a dan dan mian, roast beef noodle (hong shao niu rou mian) and a ma la tofu. The tofu probably wasn't a perfect accompaniment to noodles but it was highlighted as a 'classic Sichuan dish' so we went for it anyway.

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The dan dan mian, in my opinion, was better than that served at Empress of Sichuan. Unlike Empress where fine egg noodles were served in a mild spicy soup, the dan dan mian at Chilli Cool was thicker and served dry with bean sauce mixed with chilli oil, which gave it a nice savory taste. The mince meat and strands of vegetables added a nice touch to the dish. Wife originally ordered it for herself but I ended up gobbling it most of it. Need I say more?

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The roast beef noodle was my idea. That was one of those times when I actually wished that I had a bigger stomach. Although the same noodle was used for both this and dan dan mian, the roast beef noodle came in a heavily beef stocked soup with chunks of soften beef cuts and a heavy layer of chilli oil floats right on top. It was a refreshing change from the drier dan dan mian.

Chilli+Cool+review+Ma+La+Tofu

We were a bit hesitant when ordering ma la tofu. When asked how it would be served, the waiter replied,"Erm, it's the normal tofu." And that was after he checked with the kitchen. What the hell, we ordered it all the same and we were glad we did so.

The soft tofu came dispersed in a starch soup with a healthy dose of, you guessed it, chilli oil. The winning touch was the addition of a small handful of peanuts. The curious mix tofu's softness and peanuts' crunchiness was what made this dish interesting.

With most dishes come under £7-£8 and come in generous portions, Chilli Cool doesn't have the poshness and location of Empress of Sichuan but it is definitely worth going out of your way for it. Two thumbs up for this one.

Chilli Cool on Urbanspoon

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5 comments:

The London Foodie said...

I totally agree with you - the dan dan mian at Chilli Cool is a much superior version than the one at Empress of Sichuan.

Your photography is looking amazing, have you been investing in some serious photo kit? Wow, I am so impressed!

C K said...

@London Foodie,
Thanks! Yep, just got a Nikon and am trying it out now. But the thing is that my meals are normally impromptu so I don't normally have my camera with me, which totally defeats the point, isn't it? :)

Was there again yesterday. The "jia chang tofu" is good as well. Mmm.

MC said...

Just went there 2 days ago!! Best sichuan food I ever had in London. Tried the sichuan fish and pig intestines and spicy beef.

Very nice...perfect for the winter meal!!

C K said...

@MC,
Love Chilli Cool's pigs intestine as well. How does it compare to Soho's Bar Shu?

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