We deserve more decent restaurants in South East London. I’m forever wanging on about the regions nether of river but there’s only so often one can shout about the same places. We needed fresh blood and Silk Road is it.
The interior has a distinct lack of frills. As we bundled from the cosy bosom of a nearby pub into the freezing night air it was all of ten paces to Silk Road but once inside, you could’ve fooled us we were still out. Bums hit rock hard benches and coats stayed on to protect from the icy blast accompanying each new customer through the door.
Our cold starters did nothing in the way of warming us up but it didn’t matter, they were delicious and supplemented with beer. Kelp was slippery with chilli-garlic oil. Tripe, which came doused in the same, was soft, chewy and cut to just the right thickness. I find eating tripe a little like playing Russian roulette – every so often you find yourself dealing with a piece that tastes musty; it hums faintly of what it contained. This happens infrequently enough that I keep eating and enjoying it, but I’m constantly living in fear of that next farmyard hit. I would have liked a bit more chilli from both dishes but only afterwards noticed the pot of extra chilli oil nestled amongst other condiments.
Dumplings were satisfying as ever; not the prettiest of their kind but the two varieties were well skinned and packed full of rich minced beef and pork and spring onions. They were certainly nothing special but whet my appetite for the hot dishes to follow.
Home style aubergine was brilliant, not least because it wasn’t what I expected. The pieces were peeled and cooked such that they retained a fresh juicy burst alongside their characteristic silkiness. As much as I love my aubergines bathed in liberal quantities of oil, there was a freshness to this dish which made for a welcome variation.
Lamb skewers came skinny, salty and cumin doused; flash grilled and steamy. Sadly while the meat on mine was hot, the eagerly anticipated fat was not and the glistening globs wobbled swiftly to the side of my plate. My fellow diners happily chomped down superior crisp, sizzling nuggets.
Middle plate chicken was actually rather on the large side. Beneath anise-scented broth bobbed tender pieces of bone-in chicken, soft potato sponges and shreds of kelp. Once fished clear by a mesh of eager chopsticks the waitress arrived with a plate of slinky, wide ‘belt noodles’ which were slipped into the pot, shortly followed by another batch. Tricky little customers, it was a delightful game trying to fish one out without flinging sauce in your neighbour’s eye.
The only real failure was a shredded pork and kelp dish which I can’t really remember much about but it didn’t matter. Although at first I was the only one to claim I wasn’t full, it took all of a few minutes for my brain to kick in and tell my stomach to stop whining. Together with a few beers each the whole meal came to a puny £13 a head. For that money, I can forgive the odd bum dish. And really, one out of six ain’t bad. It’s the kind of local restaurant that I know will serve me well. Not really a place to linger but nigh on perfect for a fun bite with friends.
Nothing sates like good food at bargain prices; we giggled with glee and coughed up our dosh with garlic baited breath and the tingle of chilli on our lips, stumbling off towards the glow of the pub once more.
49 Camberwell Church Street
020 7703 4832