This month we’ve welcomed the start of 2014 with bells and whistles, raised a dram to Robert Burns and celebrated Australia Day with our friends down under. To round up January Friday rings in the start of the Chinese New Year. Now admittedly my childhood memories of the occasional Chinese are not all that pleasant. However Chinese food has come along way and Chop Chop has certainly led the charge in Edinburgh with a restaurant in Haymarket and a second restaurant in Leith making their marks.
When it comes to Chinese cooking my culinary prowess in the kitchen doesn’t quite stretch that far. Fortunately that doesn’t really matter when Chop Chop’s Haymarket restaurant is not too far away from our front door. And what better timing to go armed with large appetites than on a bleak mid week night.
Warm and welcoming, the staff are super friendly and the menu is wide and varied. With a side ways glance right and left I could tell the dishes being served to other diners where bursting with flavour, going by the wonderful smells surrounding us. The Chief Taster led the charge ordering a varied selection of dishes we could share. Within 10 minutes of choosing the first of our dishes were brought at random, followed quickly by the rest. This allows you to mix and match different flavours, textures and combinations, adding to the whole experience.
On our hit list to taste was the chicken choi mein, which was really fresh and filling as was the crispy northern duck, which was also spicy and boasted a real kick of ginger, finishing each forkful off nicely. The peanut mustard and noodles dish, sounded a little odd but surprisingly it really did work. It had a lovely smooth and velvety texture and the noodles again tasted really fresh. For me personally however it was a little too rich and I felt I could sink the Titanic after a few mouthfuls. Nevertheless the plate was still cleaned and there were certainly no complaints from the Chief Taster.
For the ultimate finger food, the sweet and sour pork ribs are a must. The tender meat melts beautifully in your mouth and the sweetness really hits all the right spots.
No visit to Chop Chop is complete without trying their famous dumplings. In fact Jian Wang, who is the driving force behind Chop Chop is originally from Changchun in North Eastern China, a region famous for its dumplings (jiao zi). And the prawn dumplings didn’t disspoint. Light and very morish they went very well with our side dish of peanuts and spinach which was another surprisingly delicious combination. I would have eaten one or two more dumplings given the opportunity!
This is straightforward, no nocence dining at its best. Simple, fresh and authentic Chinese food, which is tasty and delicious. Definitely a great pit stop if you want to catch up with friends over good food in relaxed surroundings. Or ideal if you want to unwind after a long day in the office. And as the tag line proclaims – a billion people really can’t be wrong! I only wish I could recreate similar dishes at home.
Chop Chop, Haymarket: 248 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8DT (0131 221 1155)
Chop Chop, Leith: 76 Commercial Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX (0131 553 1818)