Wednesday 4 June 2014


Dinner at Ekachai Liverpool Street

In the heart of London, just a stone's throw away from the hustle and bustle of Liverpool Street station, lies an oasis of calm in the form of the Arcade; a quiet and narrow little street which offers passers-by an eclectic mix of dining options, including the South East Asian spicy flavours of oriental dining room Ekachai.

The Liverpool Street location is one of four in London and Birmingham and recently had both an interior and menu makeover, which is evident as soon as we walked into the beautifully rustic space. The service matched our first impression, with not only very friendly and accommodating waiters but also an incredibly swift delivery of the food we ordered.

I love the flavour of duck in South East Asian cooking and since the option on the main menu (a dish which sounded a bit too meaty, combining roast duck slices with BBQ pork) didn't particularly appeal to me, I opted for the Duck Spring Rolls for my starter.

It was a very good choice indeed. I was presented with two large spring rolls cut in half, filled to the brim with succulent duck and veggies, which went really well with the thick and rich sauce it was served with. I'm not always a fan of spring rolls, as they can easily be made too greasy, but these were deliciously crispy and perfect in my eyes.

My friend chose the Prawn & Crab Siu Mai Dumplings for her starter, which was an equally generous portion (a running theme throughout our evening). The sticky dumplings were tasty, although a bit too dense and filling for a starter, and she commented that she was particularly fond of the accompanying sauce.

For my main I ordered the Pad Thai, consisting of wok fried flat noodles with egg, chives, bean sprouts and chicken. First of all, let me take a moment to compliment the stunning and hugely effective presentation. The portions of chilli flakes and dried onions on the side not only make for a pretty picture, but it also means that each guest can flavour their own dish and ensure it is as spicy or mild as they prefer it.

Feeling adventurous I mixed all the ingredients together (including the slices of fresh chilli which I cut up into smaller pieces), which made for a very hot but also very appetising dish. I really love a good Pad Thai and this one was more than good. In fact, it was probably the best one I've ever had the pleasure to taste, so for me only being able to finish about half of the plate really is a testimony to how incredibly plenty the portions at Ekachai are.

Singapore Noodles were the main of choice for my friend, which was a perfectly cooked and well-seasoned combination of rice vermicelli noodles with prawn, egg, onions, spring onions, carrots, mixed peppers, beansprouts & fresh chilli. She too marvelled at the beautiful presentation and despite her best efforts, could not finish her main either.

For dessert I was tempted by the Pandan & Passion Fruit Creme Brule, which sounded like an interesting take one of my all-time favourite desserts. When it arrived however I was initially taken aback by the dish' almost poisonous-looking vivid green colour, which didn't make it look particularly appetising to me.

The moment I had a taste of the deliciously creamy sweet, my worries dissolved. It had the crispy, sugary coating of a crème brûlée, but to me any similarities ended there. The flavour wasn't like anything I've tried before and the warm pudding underneath also had a different texture. So while this dessert wasn't quite like what I had in mind when ordering, it was a very delicious surprise.

My friend opted for the Chocolate Chilli Mousse, which came with an ice cream accompaniment of her choice and she decided on the Toasted Coconut flavour. Unfortunately the mousse wasn't what she, or I, had expected as it seemed to lack any sugary flavouring to make the dessert suitably sweet. The hint of chilli also didn't come through, making it a flavourless pudding. The ice cream however was delectable, and she'd soon devoured the entire cold treat.

In all we had a delightful evening at this oriental dining room. With generous portions of lush food that is both cooked to perfection and beautifully presented, not to mention very affordable, we'd happily return and revel in the spicy smells and flavours of South East Asia.

Ekachai, 9-10 Arcade Liverpool St, London EC2M 7PN.

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