Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ekachai - Oriental Dining Room (a review)

9-10 Arcade,
Liverpool Street EC2M 7PN
Tel: 020 7626 1155

After my little mishap in the London Underground, I ended up at Liverpool Street Tube station with an empty stomach.

Deciding that the minced meat sitting in my fridge at home will have to wait, I headed towards the Arcade, which is literally a stone's throw away. To my dismay, the entire Arcade was closed saved for one shop - Ecachai.

Ecachai, which specializes in Thai and Chinese cuisine, reminds me very much of Wagamama. Its layout, that of long benches and large square tables, is designed more for high customer turnover and definitely not the place to impress your date.

That said, the staff, all of whom are Chinese, were rather curt yet efficient in their service. I turned on my charm and passed a remark about welcoming the eatery is as compared to the cold outside… the waitress didn't even bat an eyelid. I took the hint, quickly scanned through the menu with intense concentration and ordered two of the safest dish that could be had in an Asian eatery - char kway teow (fried noodles), Sweet and Sour Pork and Chai Tai Lon (a tea really). Like I mentioned ealier, I was famished.

The char kway teow (£6.90) does taste rather authentic though I'm not quite sure whether the slice of lemon should be included. But then again, it does cater to those who prefer to add that tangy bit to their char kway teow. What I liked about it is its familiar 'smoky' taste, which is not easily replicated at home as it requires a large fire under the wok.

The sweet and sour pork (£7.90), which comes with a miserable portion of rice and some token salad, was a bit of a disappointment though. The pork slices could really be bigger. In fact, I was chewing into more flour than meat. Also, the sauce was really sweet. Yes, it's 'sweet and sour' pork but I had to down a gulp of water with each piece of pork tossed into my mouth.

Surprisingly, the chai tai lon (£1.80) tasted really like the teh tarik (without the froth) that can be found back in Singapore and Malaysia. Its creamy texture is done just right. Reminds me of the one that I used to have in Singapore's Arab Street which went for a mere S$0.60.

One thing that I noticed though, there seems to quite a number of customers who came to order takeaways. Guess what's the most popular dish? Sweet and Sour pork. Guess some people just love it sweet huh.

Ekachai is opened from 11am-10pm from Mon to Fri and if you're itching for a late night supper, go for the char kway teow and chai tai lon. A perfect way to end a hectic day.

Read also...
Leong's Legend - Taiwanese food in London's Chinatown

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kyh said...

Ah u're making me hungry now!

First time heard about chai tai lon.

My Bug Life said...

The name ekchai sounds rather familiar when I saw your title post. I know chai is tea...what's tai lon?

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Dutchie said...

The fresh white kway teow is unknown here, or char kway teow, for that matter. I use spaghetti pasta as the only altenative for this dish. My hubby always says he misses the crunchy pork fats n lap cheong. Best I can offer now r some tauge n scrambled egg in it. Am curious if there r new versions available ? Cockles or fish cake slices r just terrible - ugh !

Sweet n sour pork is also a popular dish here. I hv tried them with pineapples cubes or lychees (refined taste btw). Darn, my hubby just read this post n now he wants s/s pork for our next meal ! Tonite we r having stew chicken (less hassle than hainanese) with white rice, cucumber n self made ginger chilli sauce.

The dutch has more Indo influence, so most of them would go for loempia (spring rolls) n satay (cubes of grilled meat on a stick but lacks tasty marinades). They r nowhere near those we hv in Sg. My hubby always asked for those on his B-day which is in June - BBQ in the garden. With the help of a Malaysian cookbook (a list of 10 spices) I still can't quite get the right taste or tender meat .. sigh .. The peanut sauce is also well known - they use it in satay pastry, satay chicken sandwich spread (yummy actually) n french fries, just to name a few.

Do we hv foo-yong-hai in Sg ? It's widely offered here as part of a package take-away. Like the s/s pork, babi panggang n this omelet, they r drenched with the same sweet sauce. Ditto those instant dinners that r sold in the supermart.

Compared to here, I think London has better offers when it comes to asian food.

EastCoastLife said...

Wahhh!! Pay almost 7 pounds for a plate of char kuay teow!! :P

I would be starved in London. I cannot bear to spend this sort of money. haha.... *eats bread*

C K said...

Aww... come on already. I'm sure there're are much more (cheaper) options over at your side. Can you try not to rub it in? :p

@my bug life,
I've absolutely no idea.... a kind of thai tea, I supposed?

Thanks for stopping by. Interesting posts you got there.

Normally, I'll get my fresh supply of fresh white kuay teow from a backalley of Chinatown where there's a factory supplying it to the Chinese restaurants in the vicinity. It can't get fresher than that. Toss that into the wok with all the condiments. It taste quite palatable I must say. That said, I thought cockles are supposed to go with char kuay teow, no?

Hmm... stew chicken sounds good. Perhaps we should have that tonight. Do you have any spices added to that? I tried making my own chilli as well with a hand held blender that I got from Sainsbury. Taste passable but cleaning up the mess thereafter is always a headache.

Wow, you really go through great length to get that satay right. Those malay hawkers back home make it seems so effortless, don't they. Without access to a garden, I can't imagine myself whipping up any barbercue much less satay. lol

foo-yong-hai? That's a new one. So it's essentially meat and egg eaten with sweet sauce? So is it something that you can prepare at home as well?

I would think that the variety of London's cuisine comes with its relatively lax immigration policies. As Asians, Middle Eastern and East Europeans flock into the capital, they would invariably bring their food in as well. That said, I still miss the food back home. Sigh.

Haruyoshi said...

The food looks so delicious!

C K said...

You think so too? Believe it or not, I was there (again) yesterday night.

Dutchie said...

CK, my stew chicken is made with light n dark soya, sesame oil, salt, garlic (if ginger is out of season), white pepper n 5-spice. Add enough water to cover the meat n let it cook over low fire [for those who r trying it for the 1st time :-) ] U should hv a nice thick sauce at the end !

Can u find sambal oelek ? That n a tablespoon of grated ginger, pinch of sugar, drops of sesame oil, teaspoon of vinegar .. tadaa .. u hv a chilli sauce that combines well with the stew chicken !

I envy u lah ! Fresh kway teow ! They go so well in beef or fishball soup. Also good for kuay chap, dont u think ? That brings to mind the much missed chee cheong fun or those with yummy fillings.

Foo yong hai is an omelet (plain or filled with meat, prawns or veg) made palatable with a sweet or savoury sauce (soya/hwa teow chew). The latter is kinda bland n the former far too sweet (instant pack from Connimex). I resort to this recipe when I ran out of ideas on what to do with too many eggs that r abt to expire :-/ Today is such a day, so hubby has suggested Sambal Telor. Snag is, the EU hs banned trassi since August. Used the last bit for gado-gado sauce last nite. Without it, the dish will be very bland - ditto for indo fried rice, mee siam, curries n rendang *sob*

Will hv to go dutch tonite - big meatball, mashed, cauliflower with cheese sauce. Dutch food is generally very sober. Perhaps there's wisedom it in somewhere ?