The Good Earth, not far from Harrods, is one of a long established mini-chain of Chinese restaurants. I remember trying the Esher Good Earth over two decades ago, and the group’s invisibility to social media has not prevented it running successfully for far longer than most PR-driven London restaurants. The founder of the group, Mr Holland Kwok, came to England from Hong Kong and started working at a Knightsbridge restaurant called Shangri La. Starting by washing dishes, he eventually worked his way up to manager, then moved on to two further London restaurants before establishing the initial branch of The Good Earth in 1979 in Chelsea. This was followed by three further branches, including the Knightsbridge one in 1983. Ironically, this was on the site of the Shangri La restaurant where Mr Kwok had first worked two decades earlier. The group also has some takeaway branches and a central kitchen facility in Park Royal that supplies catering events and several corporate clients.
The dining room at the Knightsbridge venue was quite smartly decorated, with seating for about thirty diners at street level but with a larger room downstairs that can accommodate a hundred people. The menu had plenty of Cantonese classics, but also a few more unusual dishes. The wine list listed both growers and vintages and had brief tasting notes, which is more than can be said for a lot of ethnic restaurants in London. Example labels included Elderton “E” 2010 at £28 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £11, Lis Neris Pinot Grigio 2012 at £49 compared to a shop price of £25, and Philippe Colin Les Vergers Chassagne Montrachet 2010 at £131 for a bottle that retails at £39.
Hot and sour soup was excellent, with good stock and enough chilli kick and vinegar to liven up the tofu and pork (14/20). Prawns on sesame toast are a Chinese restaurant cliché and often a sad, greasy affair. Here the prawn mixture was generous and the frying precise (comfortably 13/20).
Sichuan prawns were tender and were of reasonable quality, the spicy sauce with them pleasantly balanced (13/20). Dover sole turned out to be small fillet pieces that had been fried with coconut and curry leaves. The fish was fine though I am not sure that the sweetness of the coconut was the ideal way to show off the distinct flavour of the sole, and the flavour of the curry leaves was overly subtle (12/20). Steamed gai lan with garlic was tender, though for me more garlic flavour would have been beneficial (14/20). Egg fried rice was fine.
Service was very slick, with plenty of attentive waiting staff. The bill came to £61 with beer and jasmine tea to drink. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical bill might be around £65 a head. Overall I enjoyed the meal at The Good Earth. It is a bit more expensive than many places, but the Knightsbridge location, excellent service and good quality ingredients meant that it did not seem excessively costly for what was delivered.