31 Gerrard Street
London W1D 6JT
020 7287 2669
We were first introduced to Loon Tao by A’s best friend, KK. She told us about this secret dish that is not on the menu, and since then, whenever we go to Loon Tao, we order that without fail.
Loon Tao is just across the road from HSBC along Gerrard Street. Compared to the other restaurants on that street, like Plum Valley and Four Seasons, the shop front is very inconspicuous. The interior is much bigger than it looks from the outside, and the food is much better than first impressions of the shop would give.
The secret dish that is not on the menu is “Hua Dan Shao Ya He Fen”, which translates to “smooth egg with roast duck hor fun”. It’s hard to pinpoint what’s so good about this dish. I guess we like the flavor of the flat noodles (though sometimes it tends to be either too salty or too bland – yes, consistency is always an issue in Chinese restaurants, we know), and the egg is nice and smooth. The roast duck is not the best you’ll get in Chinatown, but it’s not bad at all. The peas in the dish we could do without though.
We always have the Deep Fried Squid with salt and pepper, and the Roast Pork and Char Siew mixed platter. If we have more people with us we will then have as well the Convolvulus (kangkong) done Malaysian Style. The squid dish is something we really like to have in Chinese restaurants, and the one at Loon Tao is adequate to satisfy our cravings – not the best, but adequate. The Roast Pork and Char Siew platter however, is really quite good. The sauce is flavorful yet not too overpowering, and the roast pork is (or rather, has always been, so far,) crispy. Compared to some of the horrors we’ve had, this really is something. If we have sudden char siew cravings, we’ll come over here to Loon Tao to take away. Their Convolvulus is not quite the kind we love in Singapore, but as a substitute, I guess it’ll just have to do. We’re used to having it with a lot of sambal balachan – can’t seem to find any restaurant that serves it that way.
It’s hard to stand out as a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Even though we really like the food at Loon Tao, we can’t say that this is the ultimate best in Chinatown, because it really isn’t. In fact, I don’t think there is such a thing as a best restaurant in Chinatown. However, on many accounts Loon Tao doesn’t fail, which is not what we can say for some of their competitors, and in fact on some of those accounts it does pretty well. What we would really like to see is a Chinese restaurant really giving us all they’ve got. This might inspire the other restaurants in the area to buck up and improve.
So far, there’s just a lackadaisical attitude towards service, and contentment with mediocrity with food that’s plaguing restaurants in Chinatown. If not for the fact that we crave for Chinese food, as it’s familiar comfort food to us, we probably wouldn’t bother going to Chinatown ever (except for the roast duck at Four Seasons, which is indeed the best we’ve had, but that’s another story for another time).
Additional comments: Photos from QJ! 🙂 finally some good shots.