Eastern flavours to please all, writes Sammy Milton
Chinese food has been one of the most celebrated and welcomed cuisines to our culture, and with so many options, what’s not to love? Peking food offers light, elegant and delicately seasoned dishes whilst Szechuan food is hot and spicy with strong flavours. Or you could opt for Cantonese — a cuisine steeped in the arts of steaming and stir-frying.
However, myself, like many others I imagine, usually only indulge in a Chinese after a heavy night out, or lying on the sofa feeling sorry for yourself the next day. As a cuisine with such a broad, historic culture, I wanted to know what it was like to eat out in a proper Chinese restaurant in a formal dinner setting.
We got in contact with Emperor Court, and the lovely team were more than happy to accommodate us. So, on a rainy Wednesday evening, we headed up to Clifton Village, prepared to give our taste buds a treat.
Upon entering, you can tell that this place is the real deal. With heavy carpeting throughout and gold and red walls, there’s seating for a very large amount of people — you can imagine this place will be buzzing on a Saturday night. There’s even a fish tank, which we were absolutely delighted to be sat next to.
The menu is, and as it should be, in a proper Chinese restaurant, huge.
Pages and pages of tantalising delights, all very reasonably priced with a huge variety of options available.
We ordered a mix of things; grilled Peking dumplings (£4.70), sesame prawn toast (£5.60) and, the all-time favourite, deep fried squid with salt and chilli (£6.50) to start. They all arrived together, piping hot, with delicious aromas drifting off the plates. The dishes came set on a small traditional hot plate, with candles lit underneath the metal to keep the food warm — a nice touch I hadn’t encountered before.
The dumplings were delicious; crispy rather than the tepid soggy dumplings you can so frequently encounter, they were full of flavour and came presented with a deeply flavoursome chilli dip. The prawn toast was excellent, liberally fried bread on the outside, encasing sweet, fresh prawns within, and the squid was a huge portion of salty, lightly battered happiness. A perfect start.
Judging by the size of the starters, we opted to share just two main dishes.
Going with some firm favourites, we went for beef with ginger and spring onion (£8.40) and a portion of Singapore-style noodles (£7.50). Both were excellent.
The beef was tender and rich, not dry and stringy which can sadly be so common, and worked beautifully well with the sweet and tangy ginger. A most comforting dish. The noodles were a towering, steaming pile, packed with the aromatic flavours of Chinese five-spice, crunchy vegetables and small but perfect prawns.
All in all, we had an excellent evening. Both the food and the service were sensational, and the experience of eating a proper sit-down Chinese was one to be savoured. Emperor Court promises an authentic, fun dining experience, and they didn’t disappoint. We’ve had their takeaway menu on our fridge ever since.
26 Portland Street, Clifton Village, Bristol
0117 923 8661