The Hunan

This review comes a little late. I let this one sit in my head and stew for a few months, not because I was lazy as I typically am, but because I didn’t really know where to start. How do you describe a place that has the audacity to tell all it’s punters that there is no menu? The Hunan in Pimlico has a USP that says that punters will have to eat whatever the chef thinks they should. Attitude, I liked it.

Despite coming from the far east, I’ve never had Taiwanese food,and was thus intrigued to be dining here. The first course was a soup, a hot chicken broth in a small cup, as we sat waiting for the broth to cool, a steady procession of amuse-bouches began. Dumplings, turnip cakes, small pastries, they were all beautifully presented. I lost track after a while, but there were a few notables. Scallops on a stuffed cucumber, pork and chili pastries, mushroom stuffed prawns, turnip paste, even the tripe looked brilliant. Think Mitsukoshi but over twelve courses. Everything that was put in front of me I wanted to eat, even the tripe was beautifully presented. There were mushrooms stuffed with cucumber, lobster noodles, a dessert strangely called War Peng.

Some were traditional dishes, but others were clearly the creation of a chef who was having fun. They were imaginative, different and unusual, and they almost spoke “Eat me” to you. I’d like to say that I took detailed notes on each and every single course, but by the third course I couldn’t have cared less about notes, and was just revelling in the wonderland that kept coming. It was dish after dish of deliciousness, and it almost unfolded like some epic story.

All stories, no matter how epic, come to an end. Frodo must drop the ring into the fires of Mount Doom and the lobster noodles had to be served. Care and attention had been given to how the lobster had been cracked and prepared, so one did not have to resort to too much lobster-fu to get the meat out, and you could get it all out without spoiling a good shirt. They were almost the best lobster noodles I’ve ever had (That crown belongs to the New Fortune Cookie)

Service in Chinese restaurants has been traditionally a surly affair, but no such bad service exists here.ever since I watched Michael Roux’s series on front of house at restaurants I’ve been watching waiting staff to see what they do and how well they,ve been trained. They’re very good he, always attentive and seem to magically appear when you’re thinking about your next course or when your glass is empty.

If you want a dinner that is truly unique, something that I’ve not seen much of in London, this place will delight you. This was the best meal of 2011, by far.

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