REVIEW: Silk Road, Camberwell

If it’s good enough for Jay Rayner…

Silk Road is a Chinese restaurant in Camberwell, which is a short bus ride up the road from my little home in Forest Hill, (I do love an easy meal out in South London!). It’s a very casual set up with just a few tables, mostly geared up for big groups, and a bathroom that doubles as a store room. You know the kind of place. The menu is short, the room is bright, and the staff are nice but no-nonsense.

There are so many different areas and accompanying cuisines in China, so you’ll no doubt see a different take on your go-to dishes at each restaurant you visit. Silk Road is eclectic to an extent but mostly focuses on dishes from Xinjiang and Fuchsia.

When I went, I was the only girl in a pack of hungry boys, so rest assured, our order was plentiful and we really embraced an order (everything) first, think later mentality. We started with grilled lamb inch-thick in unctuous salt, chilli and cumin and speared onto metal spikes, (Tayyabs and Needoo Grill in Whitechapel do a similarly great thing OR check out my own spicy lamb cutlet recipe), and then got serious with big sharing plates of rice and noodles and meat.

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The chicken with green chilli was the standout dish for me and helped me reaffirm my devotion to Chinese food. I’ve gone off it in recent years, partly because Alex doesn’t really like it, but also because I just can’t seem to find the right place to order from. The gloopy chilli beef and gravy-like black bean chicken that was once my favourite make me feel a bit sick now – which is unsurprising seen as I’m sampling these delights from less than authentic establishments. Chinese food isn’t really like that at all: I’ve learned that there’s a lot of veg and soy, noodles are thick ribbons, and the sauces are more broths. And chilli is key but heat doesn’t have to be.

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At Silk Road, I also loved the bathtub that took centre stage at our table. You’ll get it if you order ‘Middle Plate Chicken’ and it’s basically a thin, meaty broth with thick pasta-y noodles that are longer than your arms, chicken, chilli, potato and god knows what else bobbing in it. It’s a dream. So flavoursome, quite salty and really comforting.

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Thinner, hand-pulled noodles with a fried egg and lots of onion, Yu-Shiang pork and double-cooked pork also featured. The latter being the kind of addictive dish I might not have stopped eating if there hadn’t been other people to witness.

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We also plumped for a load of dumplings, which were light and filled with pork and celery. FYI, you could really taste the celery. All washed down with an unidentifiable glass of house red for me and beers for the boys, this is a great place to go on a weeknight if you wish to be well-fed, feel rather relaxed and not spend a fortune. We paid less than £20 each.

Fancy visiting? Head on down to Silk Road, 49 Camberwell Church St, London, SE5 8TR. Booking is recommended: 020 7703 4832

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Freelance writer, eater, drinker and cook living in London.

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