For those on a restrictive low-carb diet, dining out is your enemy. Feasting on an entire chicken carcass is best done in private. But one night we found ourselves loose in South London. Where’s the nearest Nando’s? But then we remembered Shu Castle, a Sichuan Restaurant on Old Kent Road, a street that can only be described as “Derelicte“. The restaurant itself is pretty slick and modern considering its environs – but when we walked in it was literally empty. Despite the fact that I could hear a pin drop during the meal, I’m glad we pressed on as the food was absolutely delicious, the flavours in every dish addictive and satisfying. Even sans rice (cue scary organ music).
Bursting with flavour, the Szechuan Sea Bass is dry-braised with dried chilli, parsley, and peppercorns in an oily sauce – now this would have been even more amazing on some rice. But I wasn’t going there despite the constant burning sensation in my mouth. Impressive dish though.
Szechuan style green beans are the absolute best. Stir-fried with mince pork, oil and chilli, it’s one of my favourite ways to imbibe some greens. I could happily just eat this for dinner every night, it’s THAT good. This was even more popular than the sea bass showpiece dish.
The Szechuan Sautéed Diced Chicken with chilli, scallions and peppercorns is served cold and was deliciously oily and rich. Again, some steamed rice would not have gone amiss.
The Sautéed Vermicelli with spicy minced pork was tasty but nothing spectacular. For once the noodles weren’t the main draw – the vegetable dishes somehow had even more flavour.
Spinach with ginger and vinegar is a cold dish that I was worried would be unsatisfying when we ordered it. I was proved wrong when it turned out to be one of the best dishes. How does one infuse that much flavour into a bunch of spinach?! Sichuan cuisine manages to do some amazing things with green vegetables, just what you need to balance out all of those spicy chilli flavours. I’d love to go back and try the Dan Dan noodles, Sautéed King Crab with Szechuan pepper and the sticky rice balls with sesame in sweet soup (this sounds weird but trust me, it’s addictive if you’re a fan of glutinous desserts). If I wasn’t too lazy to travel to South London and we didn’t have the excellent Yipin Restaurant around the corner, I’d be back and floating facedown in that sesame soup before sundown.
194 Old Kent Road
London SE1 5TY