Saunter up the steps to Zheng and sitting proudly, and perhaps ever-so-slightly in your face is a very complimentary review by Giles Coren pasted on to a board. Confident, or perhaps tempting fate? Either way, you can`t ignore the fact that “The Times” restaurant critic for the past 25 years has nailed his colours to the mast.So now I`m wondering, will the same team be in place as when GC last visited, and will I be joining Giles in handing out the compliments with abandon?
Inside it’s a fairly dark décor, but a well-lit space with echoes of Japanese minimalism. The menu is a Chinese-Malaymix that may well be the world’s first fusion food as China exported and traded with Malaysia from the 13th Century, and unsurprisingly claims to have also lent a fair bit of its cuisine along the way. After the initial exploration, a chap called Zheng cemented relations, before the region wanted to become Islamised, though interestingly it sought to do this using a bit of Chinese protection. All this matters not a jot to the hungry of course, so without a care for the history, Lady H and I decided to go for a fabulous mixed platter as well as some Dim Sum.
On the mixed platter, bun-like sesame Prawn Toast had a delightful covering that bore no relation to those ironed flat numbers from your local take-away, 2 chicken satays that were perfect, and some deep fried seaweed that tasted like it always does, but sadly, not of the sea. I know, it’s not supposed to, but there’s a certain irony there. Top marks to the squid, and a medium thumbs up for the spring rolls.The Dim Sum needed only lightly bathing in rice wine vinegar to be truly mouth-watering.
The Maître D obviously thought well of GC and suggested we also try the “Rendang Beef” and some “NasiGorengKampung”. Happy to oblige, we also topped out with a Godmother Chilli Lamb and some “Kangkung Belacan”. The beef’s succulent, with an almost dry edge that’s a good foil for the “Rendang sauce”, but I`d clearly over ordered pairing it with a whole “NasiGoreng”. The “Nasi” comes as a kit, with a small pile of tiny crispy fried anchovies, a few raw peanuts and a small dish of hot Sambal sauce to accompany the egg and shrimp fried rice. Most enjoyable, and for me, an
8 out of 10. On the other side of the table, Lady H was getting along well with her spicy Godmother, but happy that the Coconut Rice was toning it down a little. I`m in two minds about the “Kangkung”: I like a bit of punch in the flavour, but I was slightly disappointed that the “stir fried in spicy chilli sauce” added little to the liquorice edge of the water spinach.
Verdict: High end restaurant with a clear sense of what it is putting out. I`m (mostly) with you GC. Bookings on 020 7352 9890 or the usual online sources