A very successful pan-Asian restaurant conveniently near the wonderful Electric Cinema. Normally I am highly suspicious of a place that features dishes from Japan, China, Korea and more, yet the kitchen here generally pulls it off quite succssfully.. The place buzzes with a cosy little bar that is always packed with fashionable media types. E&O remains as popular with the trendy people of Notting Hill as it did when it opened, completely packed even at places regarded as quiet times by most restaurants.
A starter of peppered tuna had four small pieces of tuna that did not seem to be of the same level of quality that I recall from past meals here; the quite spicy sauce served with the tuna was reasonable, though the overall effect was just spicy hot rather than one in which the individual spices came through (2/10). Prawn laksa soup featured precisely two prawns, though at least they were cooked OK, the spices of the soup having a rather one-dimensional quality (2/10). Soft shell crab with som tam suffered from rather greasy batter for the crab, while the som tam had too many beansprouts and not enough green papaya for the dish to really be a true som tam (2/10).
Sea bass was served whole, deep fried and served with stir-fried vegetables; the fish itself was nicely cooked, the vegetables fine (3/10). Singapore noodles had decent texture but rather bland spicing (1/10). The meal ended well, with a ginger cheesecake that had good texture and plenty of ginger taste, accompanied by a couple of ginger biscuits that could have been crisper but also had plenty of ginger flavour (4/10).
Overall, this seemed just a little below the standard of my previous meals here; there were no real errors as such, just not quite the same skill involved in the execution of some of the dishes. Still, it was a pleasant enough experience, and at £38 a head including drinks and service was hardly expensive.
Below are notes from a meal in April 2011.
Tuna wafu (£10.75) was an attractively presented salad with of frisee lettuce and radish with lightly seared tuna and a rich sweet and sour sauce (4/10). Prawn and chive dumplings (£7.50) were good, though a little heavier in texture than the best of their breed (3/10).
Sichuan steamed sea bass (£15.50) was delicatedly cooked, with a noticeable but not excessive spicy kick (3/10). Pad Thai (£10.50) featured a generous number of carefully cooked prawns and tender noodles, with bean shoots and a well judged blend of spices (3/10), while Asian greens (£4.50) had a good soy and garlic sauce but somewhat undercooked beans (2/10). The bill for two with beer was £38 each.
The key to E&O’s evident success is offering appealing dishes, consistently executed, with apparently casual yet in fact unusually well-drilled, friendly service.
Brief notes from a meal in September 2009 follow.
Seared tuna (£9.50) was lightly seared, seasoned with pepper and served with a miso aoli (3/10). Soft shell crab maki roll involved good sushi rolls and very nicely cooked deep fried crab with a light batter (4/10). Soft shell crab tempura was very impressive, the crab cooked through properly and the tempura batter ultra-light (5/10). French beans (£4.50) were lightly cooked (possibly a little too al dente) and rested in an XO (pork and dried shrimp) sauce (3/10). Prawn and chive dumplings were excellent, better than I recall on previous visits, lightly steamed and delicate (4/10). Rock shrimp tempura (£16) was as good as ever (easily 4/10). Service is usually excellent here but tonight our waitress seemed a little agitated – the place was completely packed, even on this mid-week evening.
Below are notes at a meal in October 2006 for comparison.
Prawn and chive dumplings featured tender prawns, the dumplings being just a little heavy compared to the best of their breed (2/10). A starter of sashimi salmon and tuna featured excellent fresh slices of both fish, plus daikon and a little wasabe (3/10). Bulgogi, the Korean beef dish laced with chillies, was very tender (4/10) and the attempt at the Nobu signature dish of blackened cod worked well, the slices of fish very tender indeed (4/10). Pad thai had good texture (3/10) and the fried rice was excellent (4/10). The atmosphere is buzzing and the main problem here is just getting a reservation.