Monday, June 30, 2008


I was always puzzled why this pan-Asian restaurant cum cocktail bar was named after a creature best known for its devastating swarms on Africa's corn fields. But a bit of googling revealed that it was in fact I had my insects muddled up and it was named after a harmless, edible one. Apparently they go well with Worcestershire sauce, but there weren't any cicadas on the menu to enable me to confirm or deny this.

Instead there was a good Sunday brunch deal offering three dim sum plates and a drink for £15. Between three of us, we sampled all the eight dim sum on the menu, as well as three of their alcohol-free cocktails. The cocktails look fabulous and I almost don't miss the vodka in my virgin Mary.

The pork belly was topped with gloriously crisp crackling, but was scorching hot (cue one tongue casualty and much ice-crunching). This was also our first encounter with health food favourite edamame, and I really enjoyed sucking the baby green soybeans on the salty, soy sauce covered pods. The soy sauce also did wonders for the black cod, which came in dainty little dumplings.

All the food was beautifully presented: the salt'n'pepper squid looked stunning in little newspaper cones. It was a bit dry and over-fried -- not as nice as what we'd tried a couple of doors down at The Well earlier this month -- but good enough for us to polish off the lot with the spicy chilli dip. (Sorry about the photo - it seems to look upside down whichever way I rotate it!)

Chilli tofu, nasu dengaku (Japanese aubergine cooked in miso) & shiso leaf (a mint-like herb) looked almost too pretty, and too vegetal, to eat but represented a refreshing contrast to the richness of the sticky spare ribs dish.

The prawn dumplings reaffirmed their status as my all-time favourite dim sum dish, while

the pumpkin gyoza (Japanese fried dumplings) were probably my least favourite of the meal, partly because I don't really like pumpkin but mostly because it was sickly-sweet. Again though they looked very pretty.

So overall we enjoyed the dim sum. But if I want some kind of dim sum benchmark to compare all future efforts against, where would you recommend? Yuatcha? Hakkasan? Or somewhere else entirely?

Cicada, 132-6 St John Street, EC1V 4JT; Tel. 020 7608 1550; Tube: Barbican, Farringdon
As well as the Sunday brunch we sampled, they have 2 for 1 cocktails Mon-Sat 5-7pm, 50% off food on Monday with a (free) card, and are now part of Taste London.


Hollow Legs said...

I didn't like Yauatcha at all - the service was terrible, I have no idea how they've held on to their Michelin star. The dim sum was nice, though a lot of it anglisized. I do object to paying such prices though.

I would recommend the Peninsula Restaurant at the Greenwich Peninsula Holiday Inn (closest tube is North Greenwich). It's not fancy, but reminds me much of Hong Kong. Best time to go is 11am at the weekend. There's no reservations and there's sometimes a queue, but all the Chinese faces says it all about the quality.

Otherwise, Royal China Club is meant to be good too.

EdibleLondon said...

Yes, I like Royal China (never been to the Club, but often go to their Canary Wharf branch).
Haven't heard of the Peninsula Restaurant so thanks very much for the tip, will add it to my to-try list.