Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Red Chilli, Leeds

Back on topic. Yesterday's post was a bit too serious. An attempt at serious comment about a serious issue maybe, but this is supposed to be a food blog not a social commentary. I probably won't do it again. Sorry.

So, the food. I paid a visit to Red Chilli on Sunday. The Leeds branch of the Chinese mini-chain, not the Wakefield branch of the Indian mini-chain. In case you didn't already know Red Chilli is the only good Chinese restaurant in Leeds*. The focus here is on Sichuan food, although there are Cantonese dishes on the menu I've never tried them. Stick to the Sichuan dishes and you usually can't go wrong.

First up, stir fried kai lan with Chinese sundried sausage and bacon. The Sichuan food mantra is 'if in doubt, add pork'. A very sensible proposition if you ask me. I've never tried Chinese sausage or bacon before, and was quite impressed. Little chewy explosions of piggy saltiness, very nice with the crunchy, refreshing greens. Kai lan isn't my favourite green though, it's a bit tasteless.

Sliced chicken and seafood hot chilli casserole arrived next. An intensely savoury broth with loads of wobbly stuff floating around in it (definitely tofu, scallops, chicken and squid. God knows what else). Disappointingly it wasn't spicy though.

The final huge dish to arrive, a Sichuan classic. Dan Dan noodles with minced pork and chilli in soup. A sort of Chinese Spag Bol if you will. Except usually better. Think perfectly cooked noodles and morsels of fatty pork swimming in a rich, meaty broth agressively spiced with copious quantities of Sichuan pepper and chilli. The best versions of this will make your tongue tingle and your brow sweat, but you won't be able to stop shovelling it in. This was a decent version, BUT NOT SPICY ENOUGH. Way underpowered.

For good measure, a plate of dumplings. Beijing style minced pork and mince king prawn dumplings to be precise. Good wrappers, steamed to perfection with a nice fresh filling. Delicious dunked in the black vinegar provided.

Yes we did order all this for two people. No we didn't finish it all, but did take the rest away. They'll happily package up your leftovers. With rice, tea and a proper tip for the sweet service the bill came to £38. Outstanding value considering that this was really a meal for three, not two.

My one criticism of Red Chilli is their inconsistency with the spicing. I've been to the Leeds branch three times now, and the original Manchester branch twice, and it's never quite the same. If it's supposed to be a facemelter of a dish, then make it so. Don't tone things down unless we ask you to. Otherwise I love it.

7/10 on this visit

6 Great George Street

*This bold statement may not be true. A big thumbs-up to anyone who can prove it to be false.

Red Chilli on Urbanspoon


Pavel said...

I don't think there is a decent Chinese restaurant in the whole city to be honest. I didn't find one, found plenty that made me I'll though! Saying that I didn't go to Red Chilli sober, so my memory is a little fuzzy :^)

Dave said...

Red Chilli is pretty good sober, but I do like it best after a good few drinks. Anything in extremely spicy soup if great when pissed.

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