Chinese Cricket Club – BlackfriarsHALAL STATUS NO LONGER CATERS FOR HALAL!
If ever a restaurant truly encompassed the spirit of cricket, then the Chinese Cricket Club, located in the Crowne Plaza London The City hotel, has to be it.
This charming eatery with its dark ambience caters for 70 people – the main dining hall accommodating 54 and the private room 16 – who’ll be bound to appreciate the decorative items of cricket paraphernalia located about the restaurant’s spacious interior, including arguably its most prized piece – an England cricket shirt signed by the entire team from their 2006 Test Series against Sri Lanka.
With comfortable red and brown leather seating and carpeted floors, the Chinese Cricket Club specialises in Sichuan cookery, a style that was introduced into China over 300 years ago, and is based on the seven key flavours: hot, spicy, sweet, sour, savoury, bitter and aromatic with staple seasoning of garlic, sesame, chilli and fragrant Sichuan peppers.
NOTE: Currently Chinese Cricket Club only serves Halal beef and chicken, while the dim sum dumplings are made from pig.
In the absence of an official mocktail menu, the restaurant will make one on request.
As such, we ordered an Imperial Mojito, which was sharp and tangy – just the way we like it – and really well balanced, as well as a Pina Colada which, in spite of the pineapple coming through well enough, lacked any coconut.
Yes, they were crispy, but that’s not saying anything at all is it?
In any case, they desperately needed the sweet & sour sauce that accompanied them.
Made inhouse, this itself was incredibly good – not too sweet with a touch of the sour and a hint of chilli.
Unless the idea here was to lick one’s fingers, which we admittedly did any way, after having removed the shells, we couldn’t quite work out why the deliciously sweet and sticky marinade was only used to base the outside of these large, tender king prawns.
Very nicely presented in a rustically-oriented plate, this Soft Shell Crab Salad just looked inviting.
And even before digging through the various layers, it was obvious that this would account for most, if not all, of the textural aspects.
For one, the crab itself had an incredibly crunchy batter, slithers of red onion, diced spring onions and a whole host of other textres and flavours which, combined, delivered a sweet undertone. Very good; one of the best dishes on the evening.
These battered squids weren’t too bad, with a ligtly salted crispy exterior.
However, these too needed the aforementioned sweet and sour sauce to add some much needed flavour.
One of the, if not the, best dish of the evening this chicken hot and sour soup.
An absolute delightfully creamy and delicious concoction that had bags of flavour ranging from the kick of the pepper heat, the soft chicken and mushroom bits and pieces, and a base that had a sour edge to it which was addictive as hell.
CHEF WANG'S SIGNATURES
There was unanimity over the fact that the spicy masala topping was simply far too powerful for any fish, let alone a Sea Bass. What’s more, the chilli was strong enough to mask the flavours of the peanuts and the spring onions therein.
In the end, it made little difference to the fact that the fish was well cooked.
Again, the presentation is much to be desired, and the taste not much better.
This was essentially dominated by the same spicy cum oily sauce as that which dominated the above Sea Bass.
And what’s worse, the chicken was slighly on the dry size too. All in all, a poor dish!
Far less oil in this than the previous two, and hence, far tastier, particularly with the springy strips of juicy beef based in a lovely, sweet almost barbecue-like marinade.
The green beans were crunchy adding some texture, while the red chilli provided some good heat.
Easily the best of the trio of Chef Wang’s Signatures.
Aside from the beautifully smooth and silky vanilla ice cream, this mousse was underwhelming.
Firm in texture with the bitterness of the dark chocolate running through the background, this had obviously been sitting around for quite a while.
- YES/ YES
- CHILD SEATING
Truth be told, of the nine dishes had, we'd come back for two, possibly three.
The problem is that when a restaurant makes use of the same base for three separate dishes, and that too the restaurant's signatures, then it's obvious that corners are being cut. Consequently, we had three plates that tasted relatively the same.
If this is by design, then it makes sense given that Chinese Cricket Club is part of a hotel that would also be required to cater for the many guests visiting the restaurant.
If not, then it just doesn't make much sense to us.
In summary then, we were left a little disappointed given our expectations.
NOTE: Be advised that the Dim Sum is made from pig.
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