The Chinese Cricket Club is not really a cricket club. It is the name for a Chinese restaurant at the Crowne Plaza in Blackfriars, named after a club that the owner belongs to.
From it’s separate entrance, you get a hint of the cuisine by the two golden lions at the door. The decor inside is much more generic, more like a hotel coffee shop with no oriental features. The night we were there for their Chinese New Year menu, the atmosphere was amped up by the loud drums accompanying the Lion Dance troupe.
The Chinese Cricket Club seems to be unknown to people who work around this Western edge of the City. I used to work around Ludgate Circus and I didn’t know about it.
The kitchen is headed up by Chef Ken Wang who hails from Jiangsu, North Eastern China. His experience was gained at a 4 star hotel in Suzhou, where he mastered the art of Huaiyang cuisine, what they serve at Chinese State dinners. He oversees the team which includes a dedicated Dim Sum Chef. At the Chinese Cricket Club, the menu includes the more recognisable Cantonese and Sichuan dishes but I am sure that special menus can be requested.
We were there for the special Chinese New Year menu which had all the auspicious dishes that you would expect to see. We started with the a spicy Sichuan Ban Ban Chicken, Mandarin Peel Beef (usually served as a little pre starter or bar snack), a spiced crunchy Jelly fish salad and the delicious marinated king prawns in Shanghai Sauce. Prawns are essential during Chinese New Year as the name sounds like laughter and to serve prawns is to invite more laughter into your life.
The feast carried on with a selection of Golden Dumplings. Fine dim sum made with a well seasoned filling and thin wrapping.
The main courses with a slight contemporary fusion twist were all well executed using quality ingredients. These dishes would not be out of place in any top Asian Chinese restaurants.
The first dish of stewed cherry Ducj Leg in Tsing Tao Beer sauce was moist, flavourful and falling off the bone tender.
My favourite dish was the Sauteed Venison tenderloin with red wine and black pepper sauce. Tender pieces of venison, coated in a most savoury and umami rich sauce.
Every Chinese New Year menu has to have a fish dish as this is signifies unity of the family, one of the more important tenets of the Confucian’s teachings. Here they served Steamed Sea Bass with chopped chilli sauce. The sauce was unexpectedly hot but surprisingly worked well with the balance of garlic and ginger. A dish of pak choy was served with some steamed rice to round off the mains.
The finale was a plate of Sweet Black Sesame Rice Balls. These are glutionous rice balls filled with black sesame paste and coated in chopped peanuts. You will usually find this dish at dim sum restaurants. It is a crowd favourite and was a lovely sweet ending to a fabulous dinner.
The Chinese Cricket Club really delivers on quality and variety. Don’t discount it because it is in a hotel. All the best restaurants in Asia are in top hotels. It’s really should rank up there as one of the better fine dining Chinese Restaurants in London. They just need to add a bit more of Oriental touch to the decor and it really be in contention as a place to bring guests to sample fine Chinese cuisine. Head there for their express lunch or pop back in the evening for to sample some of their signature dishes on their Sichuan set menu. It would be as if you discovered a well hidden secret.
The Chinese Cricket Club
Crowne Plaza London – The City
19 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6DB
Tel: 020 7438 8051