Karen's Unicorn

Karen’s Unicorn

8th April 2017 8pm

www.karensunicorn.com

Somehow I seem not to have visited many Chinese restaurants in Edinburgh, which is odd as I like Chinese food. In an attempt to rectify this, I took a friend’s recommendation to try Karen’s Unicorn. Situated a couple of minutes walk from St Andrew Square, Karen’s Unicorn is easy to reach. The restaurant itself was simple in its black theme but was spoilt a touch with the weird blue lights, which were not far off ultra violet as well as some pink lights higher up the wall. It gave an odd mood lighting to the place and felt a bit harsh. The friendly staff were on hand to sort out drinks whilst we eyed the menu, a lot of which was what I would consider standard Chinese offerings, all of which sounded scrumptious. In the end I went for sesame prawn toasts followed by chicken satay with some boiled rice. My friend chose the soft shell crab to start, followed by the ‘original’ roast duck with a side of noodles. The starters seemed a bit expensive to my eye in relation to the mains (prices are not on the website but many of the starters are £8-£9), so I was intrigued to see what we got for our money.

The food came out really quickly, weirdly with hot towels at the same time. My sesame prawn toasts looked a bit underwhelming. The bread was small and with four less than generous triangles, I was a bit disappointed. On eating, they tasted lovely, but not enough to warrant the price tag. The chilli sauce was nice but the accompanying salad was limp and a bit brown at the edges. However, on the other side of the table the soft shell crab was going down a treat. A bit hotter than she was expecting but could not take the shine off her very pleasing starter.

We were offered a choice of a short break before our mains or to have the food straight away. We opted for the latter. Served on a hot plate, our mains were delivered to the table. My satay looked cute in its bowl but the duck really did look amazing. My satay wasn’t too strong on the peanut flavour but it had a nice subtle heat to it which you don’t often get with a satay, so that was pleasing. The chicken was incredibly tender, almost melting in my mouth. The peppers still had a little crunch to them and the onions were soft. The accompanying rice was cooked to perfection. My friend was having a field day with the duck. She kindly let me try some and it really was delicious. There was so much of the duck too. Sadly I think that was my friend’s downfall as she ate past the point at which she should have stopped. A valiant attempt to finish it all, which she almost achieved. The noodles were also great, with onions scattered throughout.

All in all, a bit of a mixed bag with some notable highlights.

Food – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere- 7/10
Value – 7/10

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Possibly

Cost £70 for two starters, two mains and two glasses of wine

Prawn and Chive Dumplings - Saigon Saigon

Saigon Saigon

20th September 2016 5.45pm

http://saigonsaigon.co.uk/

We fancied a bit of dim sum and whilst Saigon Saigon is in a prime position in the centre of the city, we’d never been in before. Inside sports typical Chinese restaurant décor and was filled with lots of tourists piling in with suitcases. Handy for Waverley I guess.

Roast Pork Buns - Saigon Saigon

Roast Pork Buns – Saigon Saigon

We were sat at a table and told if we were ordering dim sum there were a list of about 6 items that were sold out. This was a bit surprising considering the time of day we entered. Anyway, we perused the multiple menus but knew we wanted dim sum. We ordered two lots of roast pork buns (as they are my fave), prawn and chive dumplings, Vietnamese spring rolls and grilled pork dumplings. However the waitress came back to say the grilled pork was now also off the menu. She didn’t bring us a menu so we can re select, so we added a second lot of prawn dumplings to save further faffing. We also ordered two diet cokes which we had to chase twice and finally got them half way through our meal.

Prawn and Chive Dumplings - Saigon Saigon

Prawn and Chive Dumplings – Saigon Saigon

The food itself did come out in a timely manner. We started off with the prawn and chive dumplings. They were incredibly sticky and glutinous but very moreish. The flavours were good and the filling identifiable rather than just being a mush. The pork buns were amazing. Soft and fluffy with as tasty pork centre. These are quite filling but I am still glad I had three to myself as every mouthful was worth it. The Vietnamese spring rolls were a really nice surprise. I am not used to having deep fried ones but to my delight they were crispy on the outside but the filling was still pristine and bursting with flavour. It was accompanied by a great dip which was also brilliantly flavoured.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls - Saigon Saigon

Vietnamese Spring Rolls – Saigon Saigon

Lots of the food being brought out to other tables from the a la carte menu looked and smelt great. Shame the service means we’re not so likely to head back when there are other excellent places for dim sum.

Food – 8/10
Service – 5/10
Atmosphere – 5/10
Value – 9/10

Overall 27/40

Would I eat here again? Unlikely

Cost £26 for 5 dim sum dishes and two diet cokes

Chop Chop

20th July 2016 6pm

www.chop-chop.co.uk

Chop Chop has a reputation that precedes it, particularly with exposure via Gordon Ramsay (no it wasn’t a restaurant that he shouts at for being useless).  So, we had an amount of expectation. The restaurant itself is unassuming, situated on Morrison St. They offer a good deal on an unlimited banquet but we had eyed some dishes not in this offer so decided not to go down that route this time. We opted for small portions of pork and prawn boiled dumplings, beef and chilli fried dumplings, sweet and sour pork ribs, crispy fried squid and a glass noodle salad.

Crispy fried squid - Chop Chop

Crispy fried squid – Chop Chop

We waited almost 30 minutes before any food arrived (other than the complimentary prawn crackers – but no chilli sauce). At this point I would like to apologise for the photos. We were so hungry I forgot to take photos of some of the dishes, so there is no photo of the boiled dumplings and photos of half eaten dishes too. The food came out as and when they were ready. Firstly we had the pork and prawn dumplings. These were minced up almost into a paste but so much so that the flavours weren’t overly distinguishable. They were cooked well though and tasted ok. We then got the beef and chilli dumplings and the squid. The squid, whilst cooked suitably, had very little flavour. The flavour could only be achieved by eating the accompanying chilli and spring onion. The dumplings again were filled with what appeared to be almost sausage like filling which tasted fine but nothing special. They were also only fried on one side. Then the ribs arrived. My dining companion was particularly looking forward to these, being a favourite of hers. They were cooked well and the meat slid off the bone. However, they lacked any real flavour and were a little sweet but had no sour notes which was a bit disappointing. The glass noodle salad was the last to arrive and was actually the tastiest of all the dishes. It contained garlic, chilli, mustard, coriander and spring onions mixed through the glass noodles. My friend did comment that although she likes salads, it comes to something when the tastiest thing we ate was the salad.

This place is harmless enough but certainly not inspiring.

Food – 6/10
Service – 6/10
Atmosphere – 6/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 26/40

Would I eat here again? Unlikely

Cost £32 for 5 dishes plus 4 diet cokes.

Chop Chop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Imperial Palace

21st February 2016 1pm

http://imperialpalace.org.uk/

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace

This place has been on the wish list for quite a while but as it’s not in the city centre it always got bumped down the list. However, we made a concerted effort to go and I am glad we did (and we were foolish to have waited so long). We arrived and were seated at a table for two but many of the tables here are set up for larger groups. The place was very busy for a Sunday lunchtime and many families had chosen to dine here. We had specifically come here to try the dim sum, although other Chinese cuisine is available. We had a handy order sheet so we just crossed off the boxes against the things we wanted. We opted for the dim sum combo platter for two, char siu buns and spare ribs in black bean sauce.

We happily chatted away but the food came relatively quickly and was unveiled with the lifting of the bamboo steamer lids. We started on the platter first. This consisted of king prawn dumplings, pork and prawn dumplings, gelatin meat and prawn dumplings, prawn and chive dumplings and gelatin meat and pork dumplings. Each of these had great, yet delicate flavour and even though had similar combinations of fillings, all had distinctive tastes. Then we made a start on the ribs. These were a little disappointing as although we know ribs don’t always have that much meat on, this was virtually non-existent. On the plus side, the black bean sauce was delicious. I saved my favourite until last. I adore char siu buns and these were an exceptional example of them . A sweet yet savoury fluffy outer layer protected a yummy pork filling. I could have eaten a good half a dozen of these rather than the more modest one. Overall, the amount of dim sum we ordered was just about right for lunch but you may want to think about ordering more for a dinner sitting.

Whilst the staff were very friendly, we did have to wait a little while for our bill. This can be forgiven as it was busy but 20 minutes is quite a long time to wait after asking, particularly when you are sat at the front of the restaurant. A minor blip in what was a pretty good meal.

Food – 8/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 32/40

Would I come here again? Yes, most definitely

Cost £22 for the platter, two further dim sum plates and two diet cokes.

Imperial Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato