Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ekachai, London

Superb South East Asian cuisine at Ekachai, London

I just got back from a month travelling around SE Asia, sampling some amazing dishes…both street food and in some fantastic restaurants.  I’m a huge fan of clear noodle soups packed with flavour, Thai green curries, all those gorgeous fresh vegetables, light sauces and aromatic rices…  And after just 2 weeks back in London, eating steak and pizza, I was ready for more!

Ekachai has oriental dining rooms in 4 locations across the UK – 1 in Selfridges in Birmingham and 3 in London; in Wandsworth, Selfridges Oxford Street and within the Arcade at Liverpool Street.  We headed for the one in Liverpool Street - having just heard that they’ve re-furbed, we wanted to check out the new d├ęcor!  Thankfully it’s literally a 1 minute walk from the station – and just as well too as I’d made the bright decision to wear a brand new pair of fluorescent orange heels and they were killing me!

We were given a warm welcome and led to a lovely cosy corner table of this delicious smelling kitchen.  There’s plenty tables for 2 or 4, a diner style high stool table across the middle and an upstairs which you get to via a sweeping spiral staircase in the centre of the restaurant.  The makeover has brought a more authentic street food style to the forefront, using timber, bamboo, rope and big steady chunky tables to create a casual yet modern and very cool dining experience.

Being a street kitchen, you wouldn’t quite expect a sommelier, but there was still a good selection of red and white wines to choose from and the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc we selected was crisp and refreshing and reasonably priced at £19. 

The menu’s are easy to choose from and separated into snacks, little plates, wok fried rice and noodles, soups, curries, salads and wok stir fries – a huge choice, with some helpfully highlighted favourites in red.

It took us a good while to decide (while we tucked into some very tasty thai prawn crackers), but we eventually settled on the soft shelled crab - lightly battered and deep fried served with sambal chili sauce; and the duck spring rolls with aromatic duck filling and hoi sin sauce.  Although the batter was a little heavy on the crab, the crab itself was delicious and plentiful and worked well with the chilli.  The duck rolls were amazingly crispy and crunchy with a thick flavourful hoi sin and packed full of plenty of meat.  So far so good.
Mains had been extremely difficult to choose!  In the end, I was overwhelmed by the choice and went for the good old classic sweet and sour pork – crispy, chunky pork with mixed peppers, onions, carrot and pineapple.  John changed his mind 6 or 7 times, but in the end, decided on the traditional style roast duck and pork on bak choi with BBQ pork on steamed rice.  I think this was the better dish out of the two – the meat was cooked and sliced perfectly – and so much of it!  The sauce perfectly balanced and a tonne of rice which we didn’t even get through half of.  My sweet and sour sauce was rich and delicious, although I found the lumps of meat a little too big for me…perfect however, if you like lots of meat as they are very generous portions!  Coconut rice accompanied the dish, very subtle in flavour, but enough to taste the sweetness of the coconut which went really well with the sour of the sauce.
There was no way we could manage desert after packing in so much rice and veg (we definitely got our 7 a day…) although  I do wish I’d had room for the ‘komodo dragon’ cocktail which sounded A-mazing!
All in all, a super delicious and authentic ‘street food’ style experience… and we hear on the grapevine that Ekachai is set for mass expansion… there could be a slice of SE Asia on your doorstep very soon!
9-10 Arcade
Liverpool Street
Tel: 0207 626 1155

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