Monday, 22 August 2011

Shu Castle

The Old Kent Road has long been a bit of a mystery to me. I often catch buses trundling along, depositing me at my flat at the end of it, and as I gaze upon rows and rows of derelict-looking shops, I'm struck by what a shit-hole most of it is. But a diamond shines in the rough, as we found out when we visited Shu Castle on Friday night. I suspect it is part of Dragon Castle nearby, our stalwart dim sum joint and when we arrived it was almost full.

A short, neat menu with pictures of dishes was presented to us, and I was surprised to find most of the usual crowd-pleasing dishes were missing. It was Sichuan only and this pleased me. After much panic and self-restraint, we settled on a few dishes. Firstly, century eggs with sliced green chillis was doused with sesame oil and was super spicy. The eggs aren't as terrifying as they look; being buried in alkaline clay gives them that appearance, but they are creamy and mild.

Sliced chicken in chilli oil was cold yet mouth-warming. The chicken flesh was firm but tender, the skin pleasingly gelatinous.

White gourd and sliced pork soup was not made with winter melon as I thought it would be, but rather Chinese turnip (daikon). Simple and cleansing, it reminded me of soups my grandmother served when I was a child, at the start of the meal to aid digestion. I found it quite addictive.

Pickled green beans with pork and chilli was a vast portion and the tangy greens mixed with the savoury pork was perfect mixed into our bowls of rice. The beef in chilli came with a warning from our waitress, but we soldiered on. Strips of beef were velveted and as a result were really tender, bobbing around in a broth that was distinctly lacking in Sichuan peppercorn numbness but more than made up for it in chilli punch. A dish of boiled dumplings with chilli oil were slightly dull.

With service, food the three of us and a few beers each reached the grand total of £76 big ones. A total bargain really, especially as I got to take the leftover minced pork and pickled green beans to mix it with some steamed rice and top with a fried egg the next day. A very decent lunch indeed.

I sense a return visit in my very near future, mainly to try the shrimp in salted egg yolk and the crispy sea bass dishes. Oh! And they have a hot plate embedded into the tables. Steamboat ahoy. The toilets are disgusting though.

Shu Castle

194 Old Kent Road,

Tel: 020 7703 9797


tori said...

Have been hankering for decent Sichuan for a while- thanks for the heads up (meanwhile, the steamboat sounds like a shed load of fun).

Going With My Gut said...

Ooh. Have passed this place a few times, always did wonder about it. Thanks for the recce trip! Will check it out.