Bless you! | Ekachai, 9-10 Arcade, Liverpool Street, London EC2M 7PN
Pan Asian/fusion food scares me a little, I usually prefer my meals to be one or the other but Ekachai has been going for over ten years so I guess they must be doing something right. They specialise in south-east Asian food with a focus on Thai, Malay and Cantonese style dishes and have just taken on the highly regarded Norman Musa, Europe’s leading Malaysian chef. I took my fellow Asian food loving friend Keith to the Liverpool Street branch for a quick after-work dinner (there’s also one in both Selfridges – London and Birmingham plus a Wandsworth outlet). We found Ekachai hidden down The Arcade – a proper retro and slightly creepy shopping passageway that I never knew existed.
Ekachai have just had a refit – the place is covered in reclaimed timber and bamboo, with rope woven around pillars, multi-coloured metal chairs and rope hung lights . We were surprised how busy it was considering the street looked pretty dark and desolate. Cocktails are new on the menu so it was only right that we tried them, we cooled down with fresh and zingy, almost healthy Lemongrass Mojito and Ginger Ginseng £6.90 cocktails. Thai prawn crackers £2.50 were impossible to stop eating, really good with just the right level of heat. You can usually tell a lot about how a meal’s going to go by the quality of staple dishes such as satay and fish cakes. Our Chicken satay £5.20 came with four skewers not the usual awkward unshareable three, with a lovely peanut sauce for dunking. Fish cakes £4.80 were good too, plus the presentation was pretty, it looked like we were off to a good start.
However, my main was a let down, I was teased by the Malaysian chicken Kapitan £8, named the ‘Captain’ of all curries on the menu. It promised everything I love – succulent chicken in chilli, lemongrass, galangal, shrimp paste, mixed ground spices, roasted coconut and kafir lime leaves. It didn’t deliver, it just tasted like a generic curry with no identifiable flavours , although they were right about the consistency of the chicken. Considering the information given earlier about the new chef, this was a disappointing surprise.
Keith’s Roast duck and pork with bak choi was gigantic and easily enough for two to share. A pretty simple dish – slithers of BBQ pork and duck in a subtle Cantonese-style sauce served on jasmine rice. Keith felt it needed livening up a little so delved into the various pots of chilli on the table. We both loved the Kang Kung Goreng £5.80 – wok fried water spinach vegetable with garlic, chilli and lemon juice, steeped in sweet juices. Had we chosen the veg and roast meat dishes alongside something fiery and robust, we would have been onto a winner.
Desserts weren’t on offer which of course made me really, really want one, what we were told they’ve got in store sound like that have potential, although the stinky durian ice cream could have mixed reviews. I can see how this place would be popular at lunch for office workers, it’s definitely more of an in and out kinda place, although the evening buzz kept us there for a while after our glasses were empty.
Ekachai, 9-10 Arcade, Liverpool Street,
London EC2M 7PN
Tel: 020 7626 1155
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am -10pm
Please note that they do not take reservations at lunchtime
*We ate as guests of Ekachai, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.