I’m a frequent flyer at My Old Place for a reason, it gives me maximum flavour and maximum bang for my buck, each and every time I come here. Sister restaurant to Gourmet San, it’s a very cheap specialist Szechuan cuisine located in close proximity to Liverpool St, a short trundle from my office. This means maximum visits with maximum convenience. The food authentic, fresh and full of bold flavours. You’ll even walk away with change from 20 quid! Don’t expect silver service though, or great decor for that matter. Some might argue that the floors are a bit sticky, staff may appear to be abrupt, it may be down to language barriers, but don’t take offence, just ask nicely and you will get. They have always taken care of me, even though it took two years before I got a smile from one of their longest standing waitresses. But know this, if you care about your food and want it to come out quickly, flawlessly, piping hot and have lot of it, then come here and see for yourself.
I’ll let you know what ‘must haves’ you need to order:
Stewed beef with potatoes – a dark, sticky, slow cooked melt in the mouth brisket of beef with potatoes that have soaked up rich mouth coating umami goodness, it comes with a subtle back hit of star anise. It’s a dish that keeps giving.
Green beans with spicy mince pork. This dish is a celebration of how great vegetables can actually be. They’re cooked in a manner that are still yielding to bite and are wok tossed with dried chilli’s which are there to impart their flavour, minced salty pork belly and Sichuan bean paste give the deepest of umami. I always order this, as not doing so fills me with fear of missing out.
“Stew fried aubergine” is lightly coated in flour so it’s crisp when fried so comes at you like molten larvae, so be warned unless you like the roof of your mouth roasted. You’ll get so much rewarding umami, sticky oyster sauce richness too and it’s all freshened up by the balance of freshly chopped coriander. Amazing.
Yu-Shiang pork – it’s sweet, sticky, spicy and savoury (from the sichuan bean paste) all at once. But it works, you’ll get a mouthfuls of shredded pork, bean shoots that give their crunch, spring onions that give their fragrancy and dried chilli that give their punch if you’re not careful. They’re there to surrender their flavour and aren’t that edible.
Pork and pak choi dumplings. These are awesome, hand made on the premises with a thick pastry to withstand the the short while they get boiled for, until they’re steaming hot. The filling gives their sultry, salty porky flavour and the thick dumpling wrapper has a texture with the right amount of tension. Ask for the black vinegar (not soy) to cut through the richness.
When did I go? Countless times now
The damage: What you get are spadefuls of really robust, authentic flavours, maximum bang for your buck, generous portions, fast service and they can feed of a gang of you if needed. One thing to note is that the mission of My Old Place is different to what you may order in your local Chinese takeaway, be adventurous and don’t go for your usual sweet and sour pork as the food of Sichuan which is what they specialise in, is so rewarding, if you like umami, you’ll revel eating here. Don’t just take my word for it, come and see for yourself.
The bad: Ok its not a looker, perhaps a bit rough and ready, and sometimes dishes can come out too greasy or delayed when they’re busy, as long as your expectations are managed on this then it’s bloody worth it.
Would I go again? Yes
Address: 88-90 Middlesex St, London E1 7EZ
Closest tube: Liverpool St
Phone: 020 7247 2200