The evenings are drawing in. As we approached Wuli Wuli at 7pm, it was proper dark and the black restaurant exterior was hardly visible. Perhaps that’s why it was so empty. Or perhaps it’s just that the place is new. Whatever, it really shouldn’t be so.
The menu is divided into two sections: the first half your commonplace Cantonese style and the second ‘Chinese Style’, full of Sichuan dishes. We completely ignored the first half and got right down to the business of ordering a round of tea and too much food.
The Chinese do wonderful things with cucumbers. You’ll find a cold cuke dish on any decent Sichuan menu and at Wuli Wuli this came in the form of ‘smacked cucumbers with garlic sauce’. It seemed that the cuke had been de-seeded as usual but then some of the centre added back for a smashed-up look. The sauce initially shocked with its sweetness but became addictive. Crystals of sugar nestled here and there amongst the chunks of vegetable and spicy orange garlicky oil. Once of my favourite dishes of the night.
‘Silkthread’ noodles seemed to be ‘Ants Climbing a Tree‘ in disguise. At first I didn’t notice the sauce at the bottom of the bowl and the mouthful I dug out from the side seemed bland. Once thoroughly mixed, they had a bit of kick and and a pleasing bite, although I still found them a little dull, if I’m honest.
Our claypot dish of lamb brisket with beancurd skin was tender as expected; we grasped slippery pieces between chopsticks, sucking and teasing out the good stuff. The gravy was rich and a bit one-dimensional, but ultimately comforting. It’s a relief for the palate to have a plainer dish on the table.
Dry fried green beans weren’t the spiciest or most blistered example I’ve ever had but provided some freshness and enough green to keep the table looking healthy.
My favourite dish of the evening was by far the aubergines with minced pork. The aubergine pieces were decadently deep-fried resulting in the silkiest texture, with a crunch from the outer batter. The sauce was rich with pork. Don’t ever go to a Sichuan restaurant and not order an aubergine dish. It would be pure madness.
On the whole, a good addition to Camberwell. The dishes were a lot tamer spice-wise than other restaurants such as my beloved Chilli Cool but as my mates pointed out, we didn’t order any dishes advertised as particularly spicy. Still, I do expect to leave a Sichuan meal with my nose streaming and the fear of the following morning in the back of my mind. The place was a little smoothed over and with the split-half menu they are obviously trying to please everyone but part of me wishes they wouldn’t. What I love about places like Chilli Cool is the chaotic atmosphere and disposable tablecloths. At the end of our meal at Wuli Wuli I couldn’t see how much mess I’d made, which disappointed me somewhat.
Minor grumbles out of the way, it’s a decent little place and as it’s local to me, I’ll go back. The service is very sweet and because they’ve just opened, they’re offering 15% off the total bill. Had we not had the discount the meal would have cost £35.50 for 3 people to eat 5 dishes with rice and unlimited tea. Can’t say fairer than that.
15 Camberwell Church Street
Tel: 0207 708 5024