The menu at Dezhou Style Braised Chicken may contain other items, but the restaurant name points to just one. And once inside the door, before you consider how to have that dish, there is a man hand-pulling noodles in a window, like a naughty peep show for you naughty little epicureans. The meal is chosen for you, foresighted, like a less-shit Derren Brown show. Subconsciously placed to stop indecisive you from ruining their brisk service. So here is a one dish review, with a bit of pork bread thrown in for good measure at the end, because some times in life we all need a need a good pork dessert (not a euphemism).
It’s another Omar special; a place he goes to frequently. He likes it because the decor is a bit tired and the service is non-existent and the portions are huge and cheap. I let him order; he’s paying, after all. Its the fifty shades of beige chicken and noodles, with black pepper because of the other two options he doesn’t like one (cumin) and the other is a painful chore to eat, digest, and send packing (chilli). The portion of half a bird is crudely butchered and a little tough (though Wikipedia seems to suggest this is how it should be), but the flavour is superb. Deep with soy sauce and clove, it’s fragranced and sweet and umami. I have no idea what goes into it, but I want to know. The same liquor is presumably used for the noodles that have bounce and bite and are pebble-dashed with plenty of black pepper. I don’t get close to finishing, not because I don’t like it – I do – but because the portion is mammoth.
The bill is just over twenty quid for the two of us, and I’m spun over the walkway to Wah Kee bakery for dessert. “I need to make sure I get the right coconut brioche” says Omar, “the last one I picked up had a sausage in it”. Sausage free the bread isn’t the lightest but has a remarkable depth of flavour, due to pork lard being used instead of butter. Lard and coconut brioche; it sounds like a bad idea in a try-hard restaurant, but it works, weirdly. I don’t think I’ve ever been as full for less than fifteen pound a head.