Dragon Well green tea (Yauatcha)
Originally uploaded by Manne.
The photo above isn't at all from Hunan Restaurant. Stoopid iPhone ran out of battery again. It's from Yauatcha. But like Yauatcha, Hunan has a great selection of teas.
That's where the similarities end. For the better. With that I don't mean that the food in Yauatcha isn't good, it is, but the feeling you get when walking into Hunan is the polar opposite.
Hunan is a smallish restaurant on Pimlico Road in Belgravia, a short walk from Sloane Square. Run by the Peng family (dad in the kitchen cooking, son runs front of house in the most amiable manner) you can tell that there is a lot of love for food and hospitality.
Honestly don't think I have seen that many genuine smiles in a restaurant for a very long time. Actually that's a lie. I have, but that was in New York at Danny Meyer's more than excellent Gramercy Tavern.
Hunan is most well known for not having a menu. Sorry, that's another lie. They do have a menu, but all it says is basically "sit down, relax, tell us if you are allergic to anything and then let us serve you the best food we can offer". It basically amounts to a multi course (I lost count) tasting menu, leaving you very satisfied by the end of the lipsmacking, finger licking good journey.
They do have a tome of a wine list. Browsing through it before my dinner company arrived I again reflected over how boring most wine lists are, and how uninspiring and lacking in guidance for the novice (like me). Not this one. The book is clearly divided in sections, each with a near poetic sounding heading and a really interesting description making you thirst for a glass from all of them. You would be proper sloshed by the end of it (and have a massive hole in your wallet) but oh what fun.
While eagerly grazing our way through a uniquely spiced feast as rich in flavours as in textures we discussed the lack of an Eater.com equivalent in the London dining scene. Or a Blackboard Eats. And why Fire & Knives, this treasure trove of food lover essays saw the light of day as a paper product and not a blog project.
So many questions. Answers on a postcard. Or why not in the comments below?
Anyway. Oh, the food? Absolutely brilliant. I would even use the worn phrase "a must try if you haven't been already". Don't take my word for it, take @Gastrogeek's. She has expressed the glory of Hunan Restaurant in much better prose than I would ever be able to produce.
And do try the Taiwanese 20 year Pu Er tea. Delicious.