Monday, 28 April 2014

My Old Place: authentic Chinese food in The City of London

Several of my friends from mainland China have raved about My Old Place for years, but only recently have I managed to give it a try.

Located near Liverpool Street, London, My Old Place is not a typical Chinese restaurant, so you might not recognise some of the dishes on the menu.  My friends explained to me that My Old Place serves mainly (but not exclusively) food from north east China.  This is quite different from the food you'll find in your average British Chinese restaurant, which is largely influenced by food from south east China.

As someone who'll eat any food that isn't still alive, moving or celery, I'm always up for trying new dishes - which is exactly why I ordered "mix of pig's ear and cucumber".  The pig ear was crunchy yet easy to bite and swallow, while the cucumber made it almost like a salad - refreshing!

Chopped pig ears and sliced cucumber - wouldn't mind eating this again.
I really liked the stewed beef.  The meat was soft, the sauce was flavoursome (and mixed well with rice), while the vegetables were plentiful and well-cooked.  The tomatoes certainly gave the dish a sweeter flavour and added some colour at the same time.

Stewed beef.
We also ordered a soup to share, made up of chicken, clear flat noodles (new to me) and some rather bizarre looking mushrooms (even for someone who's eaten a lot of mushrooms).  They were dark in colour, very long, thin and quite chewy.  If you know the name, please leave me a comment :-).

The fried pork was excellent.  Crispy and meaty with sauce nicely dripped on top, I suspect most people would enjoy this dish.  This one is definitely worth ordering again.

Fried pork.
We decided to also try one of the Sichuan dishes.  While the beans might look green (as you'd expect), I'm not convinced it's entirely healthy.  That's because this dish is fried in a lot of oil and dried chilli, giving the beans quite a distinctive texture and bit of a fiery kick.  It's actually not as spicy as the many chillis you see suggest, so most people could probably handle this dish fine.

Sichuan dishes are known to be spicy.

What did I think overall?  Well, the food was a good experience for me - lots of different dishes from the norm and everything tasted pretty good.  Judging by the amount of Chinese people in there, there was definitely an authentic feel to the place too, as confirmed by my friend from north east China.

The downside is that the service is not the greatest.  For example, our waitress couldn't be bothered to refill our teapot - the kettle had apparently been switched off - and it's the type of place that will give you your bill before you've asked for it.

Finally, the restaurant didn't accept any form of card payment on my visit, so bring some cash with you if you want to try some authentic Chinese food in the City of London.

Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street or Aldgate East

Square Meal My Old Place on Urbanspoon