Red Sun, slightly off in a quiet street off Marble Arch station. It serves homestyle Shanghainese cuisine. The lady chef, having trained for 15 years in Shanghai before arriving to the shores of London.
On the website, it states that if you are new to Shanghainese cuisine, let them bring you into their world where a selection of dishes will be prepared for £15 per person.
It seems customary that every Chinese New Year, a bunch of us would have our reunion dinner here. So it is that I have dined here a few times, be it a special occasion or not.
Depending on the number of diners, the number of dishes are tailored. This sitting is when we had a table of ten. I will post up the party of six for dinner in another post as you definitely get a difference in the dishes that you get.
I will try my best to name all of them as we always go for the menu-less option. There is the option where you sit upstairs and a menu is served but the menu doesn’t have what you get when you specifically make a request to leave it to the chef. You don’t even sit upstairs, you are ushered into a lower floor away from the street.
Having been to China a few times, I totally love that they have cold starter dishes and the ingenuity and creativity that goes into that. I always wondered why this never took off in Malaysia considering that it will be perfect for the hot and humid weather.
There were no less than seven cold starter dishes. There was drunken chicken which had generous servings of Shao Xing wine and this was good. The meat was smooth with a tad of springiness to the meat combined with the slippery skin. Others include a dish with prawns, cold cut meats, edamame beans and a vinegered slivered vegetables(拌三丝). My favourite was red dates stuffed with glutinuous balls and thickened with lotus root flour. It is a sweet dish but I like anything which uses glutinuous rice flour.
Next came the main dishes.
Braised pork belly
糖醋小排 Pork ribs in sweet vinegar sauce
You can’t NOT have XLB 小笼包
Vegetables stir fry
Stir fry squid with vegetables
Crispy rice with vegetables
Crab with noodles
The newbies at the tables have been forewarned that you don’t request for rice as you really have a LOT to eat as you can tell. We had 11 main dishes. Much to the peril of one diner who decided to go against the advice and could not even touched the remaining few dishes.
There is part excitement and suspense when you have no idea how many more dishes you have and even what they are. It then comes to a point where you are on the verge of hitting the ceiling and wondering if you can eat anymore. It is always greeted with smiles when the 小汤圆 (glutinuous rice ball dessert) arrives as you know that you have reached the end.
This is a place where quantity rules over quality. For the price, you definitely get a variety of seafood, meat and vegetables dishes and I have yet to find somewhere else that serves that much at that price. Over the years, a trend has risen where dishes and quality has dropped and were not as good as before. Can’t blame them as their price never increased and they do need to take into account inflation and rising costs.
PS. This needs to be pre-booked as it is not available for walk-ins and most of the dishes are not available on the menu!