Upon failing to get a table at Delhi Grill at 8pm last Friday, things looked like they would end badly until I remembered I've been meaning to try Yipin China. 5 minutes later we were sitting down and very excited about dinner.
It's been a long time since I've had Sichuan food, but I'd definitely say it's my preferred Chinese cuisine and I had high hopes for this place. Perhaps best known for their enormous photo menu, being able to see what your dishes will look like before you get them pretty much guarantees that you won't be disappointed.
As well as a selection of Sichuan dishes, Yipin China also serves Hunanese and Cantonese food. I have to say I have only once before eaten something hotter than the food I ate here, the laab from Charuwan. I loved the chilli hit from each of the dishes I tried and I genuinely can't wait to try more. They do takeaway too for the likes of me, living nearby.
First up was some free pickled radish. This was a fiery introduction to what was to come, crunchy and satisfying. I got some iced green tea and had LOTS of tap water throughout the evening which they thankfully readily replenished.
The dishes come as they are ready in a steady stream rather than in a structured, starter followed by main course and sides manner. First to arrive was the shared pork belly (£8.00) which had nice crisp skin and a great flavour. Thinking about it, this was the only dish we had without chilli, and was the least memorable.
I have to say I chickened out of the more adventurous offal dishes on the menu, I was feeling a tad delicate and the chilli helped, but I didn't have the stomach for intestines, jellyfish or tripe, not sure I ever do to be honest. I really loved the legendary dan dan noodles, a dish of minced pork served on egg noodles in chilli oil. So good and seriously brilliant value at £3.50 for the bowl.
I also had the stewed beef brisket in five spiced sauce with radish. The beef was very tender, with a nice amount of fat left on it. I really enjoyed the fragrant rich sauce and the crunch of the radish was a great addition. Couldn't eat it all, generous sized portion for £9.00.
Thomas ordered the dry wok Hunanese chicken (£13.80) which was the hottest dish of the night. It came in a wok and is presented above a flame at the table so it continues to sizzle. It can be ordered with or without bones and is huge.
As I've mentioned, I'll certainly be coming back, service was swift and efficient and we had no trouble getting a table although the place was full, there were a steady stream of customers coming and going. It's a bit out of the way, a 5 minute walk down Liverpool Road but it's worth the trip, there's something for everyone on that impressive menu, it's great value and I promise to be (a bit) braver next time I go.
70-72 Liverpool Road