The first time we tried to go to Chop-Chop we were turned away. No booking meant no eating it seems and at 9pm on a Tuesday evening that’s pretty rare?
I was mighty disappointed, it led me into the feeling that we were missing something amazing so I booked to come back the next day. The only time we could get in was 9.15 the following night. This place had to be special...
It was a pretty full day; running between shows with lots of drinking. We made sure to eat enough before hand to soak up the booze during the day but not too much to spoil our suppers. It was going to be a very carefully balanced affair.
Either way by the time we got round to choosing from the expansive menu it looked fairly complicated. We took the easy option and ordered the unlimited banquet for three at £18.50 each!
Now I was expecting Dim-Sum but this place seemed to be very focussed on the dumpling. Either fried or boiled they had a million of them to choose from. Starting off though we ordered a portion of the Spicy Peanuts and Silverfish to keep us going.
These were pretty amazing actually, little tiny fish fried whole with crunchy peanuts and small dried chillies. You had to be pretty careful when you were eating these though as the chillies were the same size as the peanuts and were pretty powerful to boot.
The food started pouring out; about 3 or 4 dishes at a time. Crispy Beef here, Aubergine in Chinese Spice there and Dumplings everywhere. One particular dish that stood out for all the wrong reasons was the Lamb in Cumin.
Boiled chunks of Lamb seemingly only seasoned with Cumin, dry and pretty tasteless they had to be liberally doused in Soy to make them edible. The Crispy Beef was good, as were the Aubergines. Not quite as good as Chilli Cool a couple of weeks earlier but good all the same.
The dumplings were hit and miss; some packing a punch like the Beef and Chilli. Others teasing the taste buds like the very lightly flavoured Pork and Coriander; not quite able to distinguish itself through the dumpling casing.
I was a little surprised by how smooth some of the fillings were. The Prawn dumplings were quite surprisingly so and they had a very Findus crispy pancake edge to them . The best by far were the Beef and Chilli Fried Dumpling with the Fried Chicken ones coming a close second for me.
All in all if I’m completely honest with myself I was a bit disappointed with the meal, the dumplings just weren’t as amazing as I’d thought they would be and everything else was just good not great.
It transpires that Chop-Chop was one of Gordon Ramsay’s best local restaurants in 2009 and since they seem to have got a deal in Scotland to sell their Dumplings in Sainsburys and that was the rub. The dumplings to me tasted like they’d been mass-produced, like the kind of bought in pasta parcels that certain high street chains might use.
I’m left with the feeling that we found this place a little too late and that it might have become a victim of its own success. It has its plus points; it’s close to town, very cheap and the service was quick and friendly.
It looks like a lot of people do rave about this place so I’d be open minded about it, all in all in it maybe that I’ve been spoiled by some really good Chinese cooking down in London.