Grindlay Street, Edinburgh
China Red has been on our radar for a while now. Not only was it the winner of the Edinburgh Evening News’s 2018 Chinese Restaurant of the Year award, it’s also situated conveniently near to where we live. We’ve often walked past, remarking, “We really ought to come here some time.” Tonight, at last, that time has come.
It’s Saturday, and we’ve had a couple of drinks before we arrive. I think this is a good thing: a buffet is suited to such circumstances. We order a glass of sauvignon blanc for me and a bottle of Tsing Tsao for Philip, and then set off to explore the vast cornucopia of edible items on offer. We’re paying £16.50 each, which seems eminently fair with such an array laid out before us.
We sample tiny bits of lots of things, far too many to detail here, but we barely scratch the surface of what’s available. Nothing we try is terrible. Some is average. And much is really very good.
I enjoy the sushi, particularly the cooked salmon and crab, which are delicate and really fresh. I also like the steamed broccoli and prawn dish, cooked in a light oyster sauce. The shellfish are firm and sturdy, and the vegetables retain their bite.
Philip’s especially impressed by the selection of noodles; he tries them several different ways. The Singapore vermicelli is his favourite, packed with ginger and spice. He also loves the salt and pepper ribs and the roast duck, which are rich and densely flavoured.
We’re both fans of the teppanyaki bar, where a friendly chef cooks us small portions of king prawns, lamb chops and steak, before setting them on fire for a bit of theatre. The prawns and the chops are perfect; the steak isn’t as good but, on reflection, we were never going to get a prime cut for the price they’re charging here.
There are lots of puddings available, but we both decide to try a made-to-order banana and chocolate crêpe, which is every bit as delicious as it sounds, albeit not very Chinese. Ça ne fait rien. We eschew any further sweet stuff, because we’re full, and because the pancake seems an ideal final course.
Will we come back? Probably, on a weekend night with a bit of booze inside us. It’s a convivial, relaxed place, and there’s enough choice here to satisfy even the fussiest of folk.