I didn't arrive in Newcastle 'til after seven o'clock on a gloriously warm, sunny Thursday evening. Having been cooped up in office and car all day it was too good to miss, so I went for a good long walk around town and a couple of pints on the quayside before finally rocking up at Hei Hei some time after nine.
As on the previous night, it wasn't at all what I'd planned, but beer and sunshine had whet my appetite for spice. The menu at Hei Hei (another Twitter recommendation, thank you very much) ranges all over China, covering Cantonese and Sichuan classics as well as dishes from Beijing and Shanghai.
Soft shell crab wasn't the best start. It tasted fine, but was very greasy, the meatier pieces of crab having soaked up the frying oil like a sponge.
Spicy hot poached lamb was far more successful. An absolute beast of a dish rammed full of sichuan peppercorns, dried chillies and a bulb or two of garlic. Nestling in the oily broth were tender slices of lamb and plenty of al dente beansprouts and greens. All that was necessary by way of accompaniment was some plain steamed rice to soak up the juices and dampen the fire. A word of warning, don't do as I did and eat this an hour before you want to be asleep in bed. This needs some serious digestion time.
With a couple of Tsing Tao beers and a tip for the good service the bill came to about £26. Another feather in Newcastle's dining cap.
46 Dean Street
Newcastle upon Tyne