Monday, 3 January 2011

A review of Wuli Wuli and Camberwell's other Chinese restaurants

There is something a bit cringy about taking photos of your food for a blog. I know it, and despite that am guilty of it. But I do stand by it as a way of demonstrating in a way that words seldom can (unless you're Coren, O'Loughlin or Gill-like, and in which case frankly, start getting paid for it).
There are exceptions however, when you imbibe something that sings to your tastebuds like Susan Boyle and has the misfortune to look similar... Wuli Wuli definitely falls into this category. I can't, even kindly, describe what arrived as beautiful or pleasing to the eye, but dear reader, there are times where you don't, and shouldn't, care.

There's certainly no finesse about the bulk of the menu, or the majority of the delivery. It's perfunctory, acceptable and seemingly well done generic Chinese. Where it differs however, and why it demanded a visit, was the Sichuan specialities on the menu. The default starter of aromatic duck was pumped. Tasty, well cooked and enormously proportioned (if perhaps not enough crispy skin for my liking). This was a big bit of Donald for a great value £6.40. Freshly prepped veggies too, rather than the fridge freezing soggy pot of cucumber and spring onion you can often encounter. When done well I've got no problem with the well-known dishes many of us Brits grew up with, but I'm always going to take a punt on something different when on offer, particularly when spice, chilli or weird texture combinations are integral. 
They have a good thirty or so Sichuan specialities clustered at the back of the menu, my strong advice is to start here, get some rice if you must but don't look any further. Forgive the Chinglish translations and some of the less thrilling descriptions. Saliva Chicken (stop tittering at the back) translates into Mouthwatering Chicken, an allusion to the sensation the peppercorns give your tastebuds, rather than the main ingredients! If I'm honest, none of it sounds great on the page, but I'm going back on a weekly basis until I've tried it all, so that should tell you something. Also of glorious note were the Fried Aubergine with Minced Pork, a dense gravy-like broth slow cooking the aubergines to fall apart completeness, the bite then coming from the succulent pork. 

We're fairly well resourced for Chinese and South East Asian food in Camberwell. Fellow Camberwellian A Rather Unusual Chinaman covers several of these too (and takes a much better photo). 

  • Lamoon on Denmark Hill makes a decent stab of the more mainstream fare you'd expect and does an excellent Salt and Pepper Soft Shelled Crab. 
  • Silver Lake has been around for a number of years and though, according to some, has dropped off in recent years, their Korean and Japanese dishes are still freshly prepared from good ingredients and they do a good line in slightly unusual choices. I've got very good memories of a Braised Crystal Chicken dish. 
  • The other newcomer, Silk Road, serves a short rustic menu from Xinjiang province, like Sichuan rich in lip numbing chilli heat. Particular kudos here goes to the prosaically named Medium or Large Belt Noodle. A steaming thin broth of delightful pepper and chilli zing, packed full of potato and rough chopped chicken pieces. Once the solids have been imbibed, your server arrives to perfuntorarily plonk a plate of homemade belt noodles into the remaining liquor soaking it up like a firecracker gravy.

Wuli Wuli on Urbanspoon


  1. AND they do delivery! My coffee table is stained with orange oil.

  2. @ Helen - True 'dat... It's a wonderful thing. And vital during a mainly dry January to have some form of stimulant!