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The best of Middle Kingdom

Simon Binns goes back for more and discovers a fantastic fish dish

Written by . Published on February 8th 2011.


The best of Middle Kingdom

The first time I went to Middle Kingdom, my only regret was that I had to stop after three or four dishes.

So I decided to go back and work my way through some more of a menu that is brimming with outlandish adventure food as well as some seriously well-executed Szechuan classics.

Middle Kingdom is a bright and roomy basement and a decent spot for an afternoon feast or long lunch, so my dining companion Thom and I were prepared to settle in for a couple of hours.

The starters were a mix and match – the familiarity of deep fried butterfly prawns, which were light and meaty – and jelly fungus with wild chilli. I’d never had jelly fungus before – the texture was similar to tripe; firmer than I’d have expected, but it took on the chilli, garlic and soy flavour really well. The punch of the chillies certainly livened up the dish, which was given extra freshness from some coriander.

The first of three main courses on offer was a staple – sizzling black pepper beef, with green pepper and onions; solid, succulent and plenty of it. The second was a sublime stir fried lamb with coriander; fresh tasting and livened up by a scattering of sesame seeds. This was a knockout dish.

But both of those were trumped by something very special indeed. Possibly the best fish dish I’ve seen or tasted in quite some time. The crispy sea bass in sweet and sour sauce was a handsome beast – it arrived whole, battered and swimming in sweet sauce.

It sat proudly on the dish as we tore great strips of meat off the bone. Visually, it was stunning and it was cooked to perfection. This is a proper destination dish, and well worth the visit alone.

The lunch was nicely rounded off with a portion of sweetcorn fritters – much better than a bowl of boring ice cream.

Middle Kingdom is turning out some fantastic Szechuan cooking at the moment and is establishing itself as a real addition to the city’s food and drink offering.

And now I feel as if I have to go back and explore Middle Kingdom some more. The sea bass has reeled me in for another visit. You could do worse than try it too.

To get 20% off banquets at Middle Kingdom click here.

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