Thursday, 6 October 2011

Crab Noodles - Young Cheng, Lisle Street

Chinatown restaurants often get a bad reputation; shoddy service, grubby interiors and that elusive Chinese menu for special Chinese people. It is mostly true, but I'm half Chinese so I don't feel the pain of it much; our waiter at Young Cheng last night said of the English menu - 'it's for all the 'gweilos', don't use that one', he joked in Cantonese. It's not fair but I don't see it changing anytime soon; had I not been with my mother (who reads Chinese; I don't) I'd have been lumped with the inferior menu too.

But what was available to all was on a special laminated card, the lobster or crab noodles. We ordered the latter to start, priced at a very reasonable £12.80. The behemoth above arrived and was what seemed like two crabs, cooked with ginger and spring onion on a bed of crispy noodles. Shell crackers and pickers were provided along with a bowl to wash your hands in.

It's not for people who don't enjoy getting a bit messy. The parts of the crab are smothered in a slightly gloopy savoury sauce, making everything a bit slimy and tricky to manage but as we cracked our way through the shells sucking and picking out the sweet crab meat, I didn't mind one bit. The noodles soaked up the sauce, slowly becoming softer and softer. Easily a meal for two with a vegetable dish on the side, it was quite a bargain.

Young Cheng

22 Lisle Street
London WC2H 7BA

Note there is also a Young Cheng on Shaftesbury Avenue - I'm talking about the Lisle Street branch.


Mr Noodles said...

Ginger, spring onion and crispy noodles. Some of my fave foodie words. Oh, and the crab looks good too.

This branch of Young Cheng also does decent Fuzhou fishball noodles and their Cantonese BBQ is pretty good too.

Emma said...

Can you imagine the uproar if in Wetherspoons for instance there was a superior special menu for English people only? I think that is pretty shocking actually.

I'm sure the EHRC would be very interested in this kind of shoddy practise.

Kay @ Chopstix2Steaknives said...

Ooh..I'll have to try this. Saves me from travelling to Queesnway for my lobster noodle fix!

Unknown said...

I hate the double menu thing in Chinese restaurants but I have to say there is a certain feeling of smugness that you get when you are with a Chinese speaking person and so get access to the good stuff!

ChrisBarker said...

Man, that's terrible. I thought it was just a rumor that Chinese people got a better menu, I didn't realise they actually did it! I love crab though,and that looks great

The Grubworm said...

Now THAT'S what I call a starter. Looks lovely. I'm a convert to spicy crab, ever since TomEats took me to underbridge spicy crab in HK. Previously I liked my crab neat, or occasionally in pasta. Now... bring on the spicey crustaceans.

monchichi said...

You know, I've been to Young Cheng a few times and never knew they did this!! Must have been given the inferior menu I am sure, because I can't read Chinese. Must. Get. To. Chinese. Lessons.

Hollow Legs said...

Mr Noodles - I didn't know they did them! I'll have to go back now ;)

Emma - I think it stems from the original Anglo-Cantonese takeaways. I imagine the majority of people will still order or want to order their sesame prawn toasts and their sweet and sour pork and shun the more authentic, more 'challenging' dishes if presented with both menus. Still unfair though.

Kay- I have still never been to Queensway Chinese places!

GC & Chris barker- I imagine if you asked them nicely for the Chinese menu and a little help with it they'd oblige. I wish more people would, and then it would perhaps convince restaurateurs that us foreigners can handle to real stuff.

Grubworm - I agree, there can be danger of overpowering the meat but this one works beautifully.

Monchichi - the crab dish was on a separate menu with English as I said in the post.

catty said...

Crab noodles .. or crab anything Chinese style is defnitely not for those who don't like to get their hands dirty! Me? I LOVES IT!

Su-Lin said...

:) My research group are heading here tomorrow for dinner! Everyone has been swayed by your post.

mycookinghut said...

Looks like something I would love to try out since I am a big fan of crabs!