Thursday, 29 July 2010

Chilli Cool - Leigh Street WC1

I feel like I should let you into a bit of a secret. Between you and me I know nothing about Chinese food. It was only in the last year that I actually started eating it again after a decade of absence from my diet.

Food poisoning can do strange things to your body and mind and the thought of a Chinese scared the shit out of me for a long time. I had never been that ill before and it was horrid full stop.

This meal has opened my eyes to something fabulous and it knocked the tits off my Dim Sum at Ping Pong which at that point I thought was pretty great.

Chilli Cool is a small and very unassuming venue, much like any provincial Chinese restaurant you really aren’t aware of how much of a treat you are in for until the food hits the table. Luckily for me Lizzie was on the ball and had planned out a selection of dishes that we had to try.

What a selection as well - Hot and Chilli Crispy Pork Intestines, Ox Tripe and Tongue in Chilli Sauce. Sliced Pork Belly in mashed Garlic, Fish with fresh and dried Chilli and Sea Spicy Aubergine to name a few...

The menu is not for those without an iron constitution, I’d actually been worried by the amount of chilli in ALL the food but it was revealed to me that you don’t have to eat the chilli. Thank fuck because it was everywhere.

What about the food? The tripe was delicate and the tongue had loads of flavour, the fish hotpot was swimming in Chilli but remained surprisingly delicate. The pork belly was no-where near as pungent as I’d expected but if I’m honest the permeating heat was after a while impairing my ability to distinguish all the flavours but all were amazing.

The biggest surprise was the Crispy Pigs Intestine, it was like a really good bit of Pork Crackling. Crispy and gooey but oh so disturbingly tube like, delicious yet such a head fuck for me.

The Sea Spicy Aubergine was the obvious winner of the evening though, the silky mouth sex it provided was amazing. It absorbed all of the powerful flavours it was cooked with and was absolute heaven.

Between five of us with beers the bill came to about £100 which I think for the amount of food is pretty special, the service was brisk but more than adequate. This is a great restaurant to go with a group of friends and share some really good food. I’ll definitely be going back, I might not be trying the intestine again, but I’ll be back

Chilli Cool on Urbanspoon


  1. Great review! I've also been to Ping Pong but you know what? I didn't rate it, I much prefer the Dim Sum in CCK's in Chinatown where the waitresses yell "Dumpling?! Dumpling?! whilst wheeling their buffet carts between the tables.

    This restaurant however looks fabulous, I will have to try it when I go to London again. When I was in Japan I tried tripe and and various other things I wouldn't normally touch (because it wasn't revealed to me until afterwards what they were) and it revealed it's purely psychosomatic with me!

  2. Great write up - i love Chilli Cool. And you know what you said about the aubergine, "silky mouth sex" - best description of a great dish I've yet heard. And you are so right about the crispy intestine.

    Another eye opener is the pigs ear - cold, but laced with some hot hot heat. Great flavour and texture.

    My favourite is still the cold porkbelly in hot garliky sauce - i wonder if that's what you had (I can;t remember the exact name, but i love it). I tried to recreate it, but ended up with something different but still delicious.

  3. I felt the same than you the first time I stepped into Chilli Cool: I know nothing about Chinese cuisine and I had never heard about Seshuan cuisine before. But the experience was so good that I am now learning more and more about it. And I will definitely go back to Chilli Cool.

  4. Really glad you enjoyed it, and it was great to meet you. I was told today about a dish that comprises of intestines stuffed with prawn paste at a Cantonese restaurant. That might have to be tried.

    Chickens feet and duck tongues next?

  5. @Becs This place you describe sounds pretty awesome, I'd love people to shout dumplings more!

    @Grub I think I'll be trying to recreate at least a couple of these dishes. I've got some amazing dried chilli's at home but I think they might be too hot. We'll see though

    @Mathilde Bonjour Mathilde! I'm so glad that I've started to try more of the amazing cuisine, this has definitely set a high benchmark though and I hope I can find other places to match it!

    @lizzie How can I not try a dish of intestines stuffed with prawn paste? Do they get the animal to eat nothing but prawn paste first before slaughter or is the added afterwards? As for Ducks Tongues and Chickens Feets, it seems a little tame now... Shall we get some scorpions and some crickets to try?

  6. If Chilli Cool was nearer to my work, I'd be in there every day. EVERY day.

    And would probably be in permanent agony as a result.