Dinner was set up at Bright Courtyard, a spanking new Shanghainese Chinese restaurant on Baker Street. Joining us for dinner were our long standing Friend Philosopher and Guide [FPG] and his effervescent better half [using Indian English] the Most Respected Auntieji [MRA].
The Bright Courtyard is set up by a Chinese business house whose website has all the correct adjectives that, unfortunately, when strung together make absolutely no sense. Words like – “The Group is always dedicated to the pursuit of innovation. The heartfelt commitment to innovation, development style and health .....” - and so on and so forth. Anyway, the Restaurant had been highly rated and is located very close to our apartment, so we thought why not? The restaurant is large, bright and tables set far apart.
After our coats were whisked away from us we settled down to order. To set the mood for the evening we all ordered a round of beers. Oddly only Tsing Tao [Chinese] and Tiger [Singapore] were available. HRH the Queen of Kutch as well as I have a problem with Asian beers which is that they have a rather sweet undertone. Anyway we settled on Tigers which we drank and cracked rather juvenile jokes about – A Tiger for the Tigress, ha ha ha. The menu consisted of a single side of an A4 sheet with some additional dishes which were on an Ipad. This was not your usual Chinese menu with 400 dishes with numbers alongside. The Ipad captivated the table. You could see a photograph of your dish and you could make the image larger or smaller. More juvenile hilarity. Soon we settled on our meal.
To start, at the persistent request of FPG, we had a ½ Peking Duck. The real roast duck not the made-in-UK Crispy Aromatic Duck. The decapitated duck was brought to the table and then skilfully sliced. It had all the usual accompaniments, sliced scallions, sliced cucumber, Hoisin Sauce and Pancakes. Pleasant dish, non threatening, competent dish. We have had better renditions elsewhere. Also ordered were the Shanghai speciality Xiao Long Bao. Here the dumplings are stuffed with a pork mixture and an intensely flavoured jelled stock. When steamed, the jelly melts so when you bite into the dumpling you get the meat and the delightful jelly which is now liquid. These were very good.
|Xiao Long Bao|
There was strictly no classification of dishes as starters, main course, meat, poultry etc. etc. So the rest of the food arrived in a swift progression. First up was an absolute knock out of a dish. It was Aubergine steamed and topped with sliced chilli. First class dish. I presume it was simple to make however the real test was getting the correct Aubergine. The Aubergine was so soft and tender that I had to double check that it was not a reformatted Aubergine. By reformatted I mean the Aubergine cooked, mashed and then rolled into a sausage and served. It was actual slices of Aubergine. Another vegetarian dish that was ordered was another knockout. This was Morning Glory simply stir fried with Garlic and a hint of Chilli. This was really good. By now MRA was purring with delight.
|Aubergine with Chopped Chilli|
To satisfy our need for protein, we got something called Glazed Marble Pork Belly. This was very good too. Pork Belly with a rich sticky glaze. Two staples were ordered, a simple Egg Fried Rice and a Singapore Noodles both of which were thoroughly competent dishes. I thought that we needed a bit more food, so I request that in the interests of [ill]health, a sort of stir fried dry Pork or Beef be ordered. The waitress conveyed the Chefs suggestion that Chicken was the best option. I agreed and she got us a fantastic Chicken with Chilli and loads of Sichuan Peppercorns which I love. The typically Sichuan `Ma La’ sensation was apparent. A great end to a great meal and a fun evening.
|Marble Glazed Pork Belly|
|The Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorns|
Bright Courtyard is a very welcome addition to the now buzzing restaurant scene in the Baker Street/Marylebone area.