New Aroma, W1D 5PP
New Aroma was a restaurant on Gerrard Street in Chinatown, offering Sichuan and Fujian food. It has now closed, and as of early 2016 the premises are occupied by Four Seasons, which expanded from next door photo.
The information below is retained for historial purposes.
Fujian food, like Sichuan, Hunan, and Cantonese food, is one of the "eight great cuisines" of China; however, certainly at the moment, it is less prominent in London than these other three. Indeed, while the Sichuan menu at New Aroma is bilingual English/Chinese, the Fujian offerings are listed only in Chinese — see however Kake's attempts at translation: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Kake and friends have visited a couple of times now, in April and May 2011. On our first visit, we'd reserved a table for six people a couple of hours in advance, but ended up being nine in all — they'd given us a fairly big table though, so we managed to squeeze around it anyway. On our second visit, we didn't book at all, and the ground floor was quite full, but they seated us upstairs on another large table next to the window.
We had a fluent Mandarin speaker among our party both times, so no trouble ordering from the Chinese-only menu, but in any case Kake got the impression when speaking to a staff member on our first visit that they'd be happy to help non-Chinese-readers order from the Fujian menu if necessary.
We tried a selection of dishes from both the Sichuan and the Fujian menu, and it was all pretty good. Since most of us were new to Fujian food, we had to try two of the region's most famous dishes: lychee pork (荔枝肉/lì zhī ròu; £8.50) photo and fishball soup (魚丸湯/yú wàn tāng; £5) photo, the latter being notable for the minced pork filling inside the fishballs.
Swallow-skin dumplings in soup (沙鍋燕丸湯/shā guō yán wán tāng; £5) photo were a surprise hit on our second visit; much more complex in flavour than we'd expected from a simple pork-stuffed dumpling. Oyster omelette (海蠣煎/hǎi lì jiān; £12.50) photo was perhaps a little less successful, with rather a high proportion of starch and neither eggs nor oysters being particularly prominent.
Sweet potato balls (蕃薯丸/fān shǔ wàn; £6) photo were also interesting, served in soup and stuffed with pork and nori. King prawns in herbal broth (竹筒蝦/zhú tǒng xiā; £12.50), served shell-on in a bamboo tube photo, were a little overcooked to Kake's taste, but that might have been because they'd been sitting in the broth for a while by the time I got around to them. Eel in red wine lees (紅糟鰻魚/hóng zāo mán yú; £9.80) photo had a slightly spicy flavour that was quite pleasing.
From the Sichuan menu, beef stomach on skewers with special hot sauce photo was certainly quite hot, while "stir and grill hot fresh chilli" (tiger-skin chillies/虎皮尖椒/hǔ pí jiān jiāo; £7.80) photo was actually less spicy than we'd expected. Stir fried bean curd with two colour sauce (太極豆花/tài jí dòu huā; £6.80) was nicely presented photo and also quite tasty; even bob liked it. JJ chicken hotpot (£8) contained liver, which pleased Sarah very much.
Kake's verdict: Although I've been twice now, I still very much want to go back and try more of the menu.
Accessibility: Shallow ramp to get in, and there's an accessible toilet on the ground floor (other toilets are up a flight of stairs). Although the main seating is on the ground floor, there's another dining room upstairs.
- Kake's photoset on Flickr
- Chowhound thread
- Eat Noodles Love Noodles review (of our first visit)
- Yelp comments