15 Leigh street
0207 383 3135
The first time we went to Chilli Cool was for D’s birthday. We were in a huge group and all of us had the steamboat buffet, with 2 kinds of stock – chicken stock and spicy and numbing stock. The food wasn’t anything gush worthy, and most of us stayed clear away from the spicy and numbing portion of the steamboat as we didn’t enjoy the tingling sensation that biting into one of those pesky seeds would give you. As a result, A didn’t fancy the idea of going back to Chilli Cool to try their ala carte dishes, even though bloggers have been raving about it for quite a while now.
D and I finally managed to persuade A to go back to Chilli Cool. It was really quite an exciting day for the both of us, though A was understandably still very apprehensive.
The first that came was the ‘Saliva Chicken’ (Kou Shui Ji) and this was heavenly. It wasn’t as amazing as the version we had in Bar Shu, but it was still incredible. The chicken slices were so full of flavor, and the chilli oil was so fragrant that we could not stop eating this dish. This is precisely the kind of dish that you will remember when you leave the restaurant, and indeed, we think about this dish all the time, and have to consciously stop ourselves from salivating. (and I’m salivating as I type this)
The next dish was the ma po tofu, which also came swimming in a pool of chilli oil. This dish is very different to the Cantonese version often found in most Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. The spices used are very different, and I think the type of tofu is also different. The tofu used at Chilli Cool is not as soft as the one used in the Cantonese version of this dish. We can’t decide which we prefer, but perhaps because of the mindblowing-ness of the first dish, we kind of felt that this one disappointed us a little.
Our main dish was the shui zhu yu (‘water cooked fish’), which was basically a HUGE bowl of fish slices, once again, swimming in a pool of chilli oil. The fish slices were soft and had a lovely melt in your mouth quality about them and they were wonderfully flavorful. The bowl this dish is served in is so huge that it covered our entire table. The numbing seeds, so characteristic of Sichuan food, are clearly present in every dish at Chilli Cool, but unlike our first experience with the hotpot, we found that the seeds weren’t as offensive in the ala carte dishes. They were used far more subtly, and hence very easily avoided while eating.
Finally, we also had some steamed dumplings. After all those incredibly strong dishes, this dish was far more muted. D and I could hardly taste anything in the dumplings, though A insisted that they were very tasty.
Since our first visit, we’ve been to Chilli Cool about 2 more times already. Each time we make sure we order the kou shui ji, and we’ve always ordered 2 portions of it each time we went. It is indeed such a wonderful dish that we’ve already planned another visit sometime next week to have it again. We’ve also tried the kong bao chicken, the spare ribs and the prawns fried with chilli. All of them were fantastic, though we probably wouldn’t recommend ordering all three of them in the same meal since they’re kind of similar. One final thing to add: make sure you order the aloe vera juice, and get a full bottle to share – it’s amazing!!