Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Baozi Inn

I have only ever had Chinese food once since moving to England, an experience as you may gather from the absence of this particular cuisine from that point onwards that was rather unpleasant. The Chinese takeaway my family and I naively ordered for a Saturday night in was of course in terms of authenticity the furthest you can possibly get away from an incredibly diverse cuisine that differs greatly from region to region, the greasy and flavorless variants of Chop Suey and Chicken Chow Mein served in cardboard boxes hardly a flavor experience I wanted to repeat. This is why I had been rather hesitant to try any of the establishments that line the streets of Chinatown since moving to London, especially not really knowing which were tourist traps and which actually served authentic food. This where my friend Chu came to the rescue who originally from Singapore and of Chinese decent was the best guide I could have asked for to introduce me to “proper” Chinese food. Baozi Inn, hidden in a little side street of Chinatown, was the perfect way to do exactly that. With a concise menu focused on  Sichuan cuisine which Chu warned me would be rather spicy ( me however loving chilies was more than prepared to put this to the test), it was incredibly light and flavourful and offered  some completely unexpected and new flavours. I already loved the interior, a hybrid of traditional Chinese culture with a hint of its Communist past (and arguably present), with Mao looking down on us from a poster adorning the wall and although not the most friendly service is offered her, you are expected to decide pretty quickly what you want, it offered a homely and authentic environment far away from the swarms of tourists just around the corner on the main Chinatown strip. Chu had one of the signature dishes of the region, the Mapo tofu, tofu in a spicy, warming sauce over rice which was incredibly moorish while I had the shredded chicken over cold noodles with a sesame sauce, full of deep flavours from the sauce and interesting textures yet not fatty or too filling. We also shared their amazing dumplings in a garlic and chili sauce that had just the right ratio of dough and filling and finished off a meal that while definitely spicy was not overpowering in its flavor, perfectly complimenting the ingredients and making me want to go back very soon to try what else the menu has to offer. With great prices (you will be hard pushed to spend over £15) and authentic fare in a nice environment this is the Chinese food I have yearned for so long, good thing that Chu finally showed me it exists in London. 


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