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 (12/20). 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 (12/20). 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 (12/20).
Sea bass was served whole, deep fried and served with stir-fried vegetables; the fish itself was nicely cooked, the vegetables fine (13/20). Singapore noodles had decent texture but rather bland spicing (11/20). 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 (14/20).
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.
A meal just a few months earlier had been more successful.
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 (14/20). Prawn and chive dumplings (£7.50) were good, though a little heavier in texture than the best of their breed (13/20).
Sichuan steamed sea bass (£15.50) was delicatedly cooked, with a noticeable but not excessive spicy kick (13/20). 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 (13/20), while Asian greens (£4.50) had a good soy and garlic sauce but somewhat undercooked beans (12/20). 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.