Naturally Chinese in Surbiton has a thing. It’s “free of mono-sodium glutamate“, complemented by “feel good” menus compiled in conjunction with a nutritionist. There’s also as a focus on options for those with wheat intolerance and veggies. The problem with this “thing” is that it somewhat belies Naturally Chinese’s main selling point – which is awesome and authentic Chinese cuisine. I’ve passed Naturally Chinese several times a week for nearly 4 years and hadn’t yet visited under the false impression it would be, well, healthy not tasty.
Service and Decor at Naturally Chinese
The decor at Naturally Chinese is relatively unremarkable. It creates a nice environment to dine in, without being garish as I have accused the nearby French Table of being. Not is the decor an overwhelming feature as I have mentioned about nearby Aioli. This nice environment is aided by the fact they haven’t tried to cram as many covers as possible into the physical space, which is always welcome.
In terms of service, I think, in fairness to Naturally Chinese, on my visit in the evening of the August Bank Holiday Monday, they were slightly caught by surprise by the level of custom. This meant they could’ve done with an extra pair of hands. The only service related consequence though, is that it required a modicum of effort to order additional beers, but is not something I would suggest is a systematic issue.
That said, I should praise Naturally Chinese specifically for serving nuts with your preliminary drinks. So many places neglect this basic gesture, a personal frustration regular readers will remember. I would also commend their drinks prices; perfectly acceptable wine at £18 a bottle and 330ml beer at £3.50 is notable value for the area.
In any event, the actual food service at Naturally Chinese is highly efficient and dishes arrive promptly and are yet obviously freshly prepared, which is very good.
The Food at Naturally Chinese
We opted to have the Tasting Platter to start. This is a shared mixture of the usual appetisers and gave us a real insight into what Naturally Chinese was capable of. The smoked chicken was of particular note. Instead of the usual dry pieces of chicken which is closer to salt and pepper chicken than smoked common to many establishments, this tasted genuinely of smoke. Only lightly, but just enough to match the slices of crisp fried garlic and chilli mixed in with it. The prawn spring roll was legitimately one large prawn in filo pastry. The chicken satay was made from decent chicken breast and in huge chunks and the barbeque spare rib was as intended – melt in mouth meat with a fine sauce. This was accompanied, in keeping with Naturally Chinese’s healthy motif, with a raw vegetable mixed salad which I defy even the most awkward child not to like at least a bit.
For my main course, I opted for one of the two rotisserie meat options. This was Chinese style pork loin, Chinese style pork belly with crispy skin and Chinese roast duck breast. No-one can say that Naturally Chinese skimp on their portions; this was huge. It could easily serve two. All the meat remained moist, flavourful and everything you would imagine it should be. We shared a Singapore rice noodle, which was equally delicious and full of prawns and other accoutrements and pak choi in a light garlic sauce which was a shining example of how this otherwise boring vegetable can be come anyone’s favourite. Friend’s spicy szechuan-style chicken was nice enough, the only problem is that when up against the rotisserie platter, it is at an immediate disadvantage.
Desserts are on offer, but I challenge anyone to get to that stage at Naturally Chinese and still be hungry. My only regret is that they don’t deliver, which is a crying shame when you compare them to the majority, if not all, of other establishments in the vicinity that do.
|Restaurant Name||Naturally Chinese|
|Price Range||£35-40 a head (Dinner)|
|Phone||020 8399 5533|
|Address||59-63 Brighton Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 5LR|