It all started with an email from An American in LondonGeneral Tso’s chicken could be found in London and it was to be found at No. 10, a Chinese restaurant in Earl’s Court. My first and only taste of it was at a cheap Chinese restaurant in Manhattan a couple years ago but I remembered how even this was quite the tasty treat – most American Chinese restaurants offer it and it’s extremely popular. The chicken is almost always deep fried first and then tossed in a thick spicy and sweet sauce that’s balanced well. Would London’s version live up to our expectations?

A date was set for dinner and along came me, Krista from Londonelicious and Mr Noodles from Eat Noodles Love Noodles. The restaurant is located very near to Earl’s Court station and was actually a little larger than I expected though that may have been because they managed to fit in quite a number of tables by installing stools rather than chairs. Their menu is ridiculously long with the majority of it being the usual Cantonese fare and a few Japanese- and Thai-inspired dishes thrown in and with a special section for Sichuan cuisine. We ordered from both the regular (where the General’s chicken was located) and the special menu.

So, how was the General Shou’s chicken (as spelled on the menu)? Disappointing. A plateful of lurid orange deep fried chicken arrived with bits of onion and green pepper and peanuts. Peanuts. There should be no peanuts in General Tso’s chicken. Even if we overlook the peanuts (which were a little stale and weren’t fried very well), the flavours weren’t correct – it was too sweet and cloying and not spicy at all. A General Tso fail.

General Shou's Chicken

Mr Noodles knew exactly what a Twin’s platter was while the rest of us read the menu with great confusion. It turns out that the twins refer to any two kinds of classic Cantonese roast meats – he chose char siu and siu yoke. They looked pretty grim coming out and the char siu did turn out to be the case. However, the siu yoke (the roast pork belly) tasted a lot better than it looked but I’ve had better renditions elsewhere.

Twins Platter

Luckily, the stir fried kai lan with garlic was excellent. Tender leaves and crunchy stems and everything you’d ask for in Chinese stir fried greens.

Stir Fried Kai Lan with Garlic

Things also started looking up when we got to the real Sichuan dishes. The cold Sichuan noodles with chicken (the waitress was quick to point out that it wouldn’t be cold but lukewarm) were fine though nothing outstanding. They could have used a bit more heat but at least they were tasty with lots of sesame paste in the sauce.

Cold Sichuan Noodles with Chicken

The sea spicy aubergine with pork was also very good though had a bit too much vinegar in the sauce for me. The aubergine pieces were wonderfully silky and the dish went very well with all the rice we ordered.

Sea Spicy Aubergine with Pork

The best dish though was the water cooked beef with its very tender beef and Chinese cabbage in a spicy, oily broth. It could have been a little more spicy though – I wonder if they tone down the heat on their dishes. Still, it was excellent and I’d order that again if I returned.

Water Cooked Beef

It’s such a shame that they don’t advertise their Sichuan dishes on the menu outside their restaurant; instead they look like a typical Chinese restaurant offering the usual Cantonese dishes. If you’re in the area, it’s not a bad place to drop by but steer clear of the bog-standard menu (and the General’s chicken) and order off the Sichuan specials and you’ll do fine. With rice, drinks, and service, all the food came to £15 a head when split between the five of us. As you can see, portion sizes are pretty big too, making this place quite the bargain.

Mr Noodles has also written up his take on the evening.

No. 10
10 Hogarth Pl
Earl’s Court
London SW5 0QT

No. 10 on Urbanspoon