Craving spicy food on a relatively cool evening, my partner and I found ourselves at Jin Li Restaurant in Chinatown. Since I’ve left SIN City, I’ve been quite lucky not to really miss Asian food too much due to the accessibility of the different cuisines all around Chinatown. Funnily enough, I’ve never taken to Sichuan style mala cuisine in Singapore as I felt it was simply too much.
Perhaps as the weather gets colder in London, I find myself craving spicier and spicier food. Who knows! Anyway, I came across Jin Li Restaurant and I felt certain it was legit enough. Not one of those westernised locales, and I was right. If I had left it to my partner to decide, he would have picked something had good Google reviews. Hahahaha! I mean, that may work for most restaurants but not Chinese ones as the reviews are likely to be on Wechat or Little Red Book or something.
Jin Li is a place in Chengdu and taking after its namesake, the restaurant also serves up authentic Sichuan style food and also offers Chinese hotpot.
Authentic Sichuan Cuisine in London
I may not be from Sichuan or Chengdu, but I am very familiar with the cuisine as the rise of numbing and spicy dishes 麻辣 in Singapore are also on the rise. At Jin Li, we ordered the Hot and Sour glass noodles 酸辣粉, fried French beans 干煸四季豆, and Sichuan spicy fried chicken 辣子鸡. We were also a bit greedy and ordered Dan Dan Noodles 担担面 and Dumpling in Red Oil 红油招手 to share. Between two people, that was definitely more than enough.
The hot and sour glass noodles hit all the right spots for me, filled with pickled vegetables 榨菜 and peanuts, this vinegary and spicy treat is the best starter you could ever get, in my opinon. I’d even have this as a main with dumplings! The Dan Dan noodles were also nice and peanuty, to be honest – we didn’t need this dish because we already had the hot and sour. I’ve had better dumplings in red oil, as Jin Li’s rendition was more like wantons in a chilli oil soup. I prefer the ones from Din Tai Fung still, they are the best ones for me. Or even the ones I’ve made for myself with Laoganma chilli crisp oil and Chingkiang vinegar.
I absolutely loved the fried French beans that was teeming with preserved olives and minced meat, that one I could eat it any day. Of course, the piece de resistance was the Sichuan spicy fried chicken.
Sichuan Fried Chicken in London
If you’ve been following my posts for a while, you’ll know I’ve made my own version of this dish a couple of times with success – link to method above. It’s just a pain with all the deep-frying as the hobs in London flats are not made for heavy cooking. So, for the sake of convenience, the both of us decided to order it in a restaurant instead.
I was pleased to say that the ratio of chicken to dried chillis was a good one. Some places, I’ve mentioned previously, have a tendency to put a ton of dried chillis to smother the chicken pieces. Part of this dish’s schtick is to ‘find the chicken’ in the pile of chillis. That always gets my goat as I feel that it’s just cheating the customer. Hence, I am very glad Jin Li’s version is similar to mine at home – with visible chicken pieces!
The aromatics such as garlic, ginger, spring onions, and Sichuan peppercorns were tossed in hot oil until fragrant before the deep fried chicken pieces were thrown in. Thus, the flavours permeated throughout the entire dish for a satisfying meal. 10/10 will come back again for sure, the next time if have a Sichuan craving.
Now…if only someone can point me to good Northern Chinese skewers – that would be great!
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