Jiangsu comfort cooking
|Sweet and sour Jiangsu style seabass|
For Chinese food, Cantonese cuisine will always be my first choice. Having said that, I am also a fan of Jiangsu cuisine, which is hard to come by in London. Kaki in King Cross labeled itself as a Szechuan restaurant and its menu is packed with super spicy and numbing dishes, which I have no love for. However, it now also has a page of Jiangsu (Huaiyang) based dishes, such as braised meatballs and pan-fried pork buns. Kaki generally got some really positive feedback since it was launched, so I was looking forward to seeing if it could deliver some solid Jiangsu cooking which should be packed with delightful rich flavors.
|Xiao long bao|
|Braised chicken wings in coke gravy|
The dish that stood out the most for me was the braised pork belly in oolong tea, it was sweet and smoky, with the tea leaves fried into a crispy seaweed like texture which offered some wonderful aromatic aroma, it was comfort Chinese food at its best. The xiao long bao was a disaster, the skin was really thick and tasteless, it was perhaps the weakest I have ever encountered in London and I wonder if it was brought in frozen instead of making fresh on site. The showstopper sweet and sour seabass was well executed, well deboned and the fish fillet was really moist with a well battered crispy skin. Outside of the Huaiyang dishes, I also had cola chicken wings, which was braised in a thick gravy that made using dark soy sauce, spices, and coke. The meat fell off the bone easily and packed with robust umami goodness.
|Braised beef soup noodles|
|Oolong tea pork belly|
For a Chinese restaurant that specializes in Szechuan cooking, Kaki's Huaiyang dishes were not half bad at all. While the xiao long bao was weak, other dishes were top notch. Besides the Szechuan and Huaiyang dishes, its menu also has a wide range of Cantonese and Taiwanese dishes, so it can be confusing if you know your Chinese cuisine origin. Put that aside, I was impressed with Kaki's cooking, and the decor of the venue is kind of edgy and cool, which is very unusual for a Chinese restaurant. I would have no problem to head back there again if I am in the area.
Average cost without drinks and services:
125 Caledonian Rd, Islington, London N1 9RG