North China

305 Uxbridge Road, London, W3 9QU, United Kingdom

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This family-run Peking cuisine restaurant has been serving customers in Acton and Ealing since 1976. It is in a parade of shops and has simple décor: blue patterned carpet, a mirror on one wall and opposite wall painted a terracotta colour. There are about a dozen tables, and all were taken on this Sunday night. The now elderly Mr Hung Sun Lou has been the longstanding head chef, though he is mostly retired now; he was once head chef of Mr Chow in Knightsbridge.

Although the restaurant notionally serves food from Peking, in reality the bulk of the menu is Cantonese, though there are a few Peking dishes. The cooking from around China’s capital tends to be heavier in its use of soy than that of Hong Kong (Canton), with more emphasis on frying and more use of flour compared to rice. The wine list had 30 odd selections, and ranged in price from £16.20 to £100 with a median price of £24. Example labels were Grand Cape Chenin Blanc 2012 at £16.20 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £6, St Emilion Clos de la Cure 2010 at £38 for a wine that retails at £22, and a relative bargain in the form of Grand Puy Lacoste 1995 at £95 for a wine that will set you back £89 in a shop.

Grilled dumplings (£6.50) were more carefully made than is often the case, avoiding overcooking the outer casing, and with a tasty pork filling with a slight vinegar kick (13/20). This was better than crab meat and sweet corn soup (£4.80), in which the presence of crab could barely be discerned (11/20).

Sea bass (£14.50) was steamed whole and filleted at the table, served with ginger and soy sauce. The fish was properly cooked, the ginger working nicely with the flavour of the fish (13/20). Sizzling prawns (£10.80) were tender, though hardly of the highest quality, but came with nicely cooked mixed vegetables including peppers and carrots (13/20). Gai lan (£7.20) with ginger was also very tender, the broccoli stems quite delicate and well selected (14/20). Egg fried rice was also fine.

The bill came to £38 a head, with beer and jasmine tea to drink. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by North China, which delivered food of a standard much higher than most local Chinese places, and at a fair price; I would happily return. No wonder it is doing such a good trade, especially in an area not overly burdened by good restaurants.



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