Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Restaurant Review: Gourmet San

Finding places to rent means a lot of talking to estate agents who don't have anything you want and then ring you for weeks after asking if it was a 3 bedroom for September that you wanted.  No it wasn't, that must have been someone else, and could you please STOP RINGING ME!  On the plus side you do go to parts of town you don't often visit (at least not during the day) and that means you get to eat at new places.  This led me to find a place that did amazing cupcakes, it also meant I got to try Gourmet San in Bethnal Green, somewhere I've been reading about for a while.

It's a pretty unassuming looking place about 5 minutes along Bethnal Green Road at the Brick Lane end.  The sign is pretty worn, the inside is narrow, with paper table cloths and a very busy looking kitchen.  Busy is the word.  It was filling up when we got there at around 7 and by the time we had finished there was a decent sized queue.  

Sadly there were just two of us.  We'd assumed from the £7 price tags for mains that portions wouldn't be huge.  This was wrong.  The two lamb skewers and barbecued squid we started with didn't quite provide the clue for that.  They were good, but the lamb didn't have the delicious crispy fat that I really like.  My poached pork slices in hot chilli oil was more indicative - it was enormous.  Probably at least big enough for 3 or 4 with a side or two in fact.  It was also very tasty, although I find this dish, with its slick of oil in the broth as well as the fat from the pork, a bit too rich after a few bites.  The half cabbage or so in there gave it some vegetal freshness and their was a nice big hit of sichuan pepper, though I would have liked it more spicy. Lamb fried in cumin came in a huge stack of chopped raw onions.  This was good, if not spectacular.  The meat was well seasoned and tasty, but could have been more tender.  What was fantastic however, were the fried green beans with mince and preserved vegetables.  These were near perfect, beautifully cooked, keeping their crispness  and blistered from the heat of the wok.  

The meal was definitely very good and left me keen to go back soon, probably with a bigger group.  I would recommend it, although I feel we didn't do it real justice.  I'm looking forward to doing that soon.

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