Auspicious food is at the centre of celebrating Mid Autumn festival, and at JinLi, you can experience the classics yourself.
At Newport Place in Chinatown London, JinLi specialises in offering traditional Sichuan cuisine. Characterised by spice, this southwestern Chinese restaurant has grown in popularity among Londoners in recent years.
For the Mid-Autumn festival, we tried a selection of their most popular celebratory dishes and seasonal specials that emphasise fall's bountiful harvest.
Pan Fried Gyoza Dumplings
Kickstart the festivities by ordering their deceptively simple pan-fried gyoza dumplings, symbolising togetherness. The crispy and thin skin provided a satisfying crunch followed by a juicy meat filling. Then, dip this into the Chinese vinegar, and you've got yourself a moreish starter.
King Prawn Chow Mein
Then, move on to their King prawn chow mein. Chow mein isn't a usual dish at the table during Mid Autumn festival. But we couldn't pass up the opportunity to try this out. They served this with a generous amount of large prawns and thin crispy noodles covered in a savoury soy sauce. Perfect for sharing and great for value.
JinLi's Dry Pot
However, the indisputable winner of our meal was their Sichuan mala dry pot. Mala Xiang Guo is a dry version of a Chinese hot pot which yields a thicker, more flavourful sauce coating for the ingredients inside.
Their spicy dry pot is highly customisable, with a copious amount of ingredients to choose from. Aligning with the festive period, we added lotus root, pork belly, beef slices, cucumber, and mildly firm tofu.
The thinly sliced pork belly and beef slices coated in their signature hot sauce will give you a spicy, tingling, umami punch.
Meanwhile, the lotus root and cucumber offset the richness of the fatty meats and thick broth. Crunchy lotus root, refreshing cucumber and soft tofu balanced the other ingredients and had us reaching for more rice with each bite.
Not only is the lotus root a great starchy addition it's also known to symbolise strong family bonds during the Mid Autumn festival.
Another must-try during Mid Autumn Festival is their Hairy Crab, a seasonal delicacy. In parts of China, hairy crab is in season during this period. Steamed crabs are often prepared with ginger and vinegar and served with soy sauce. While we couldn't try this out, we recommend calling ahead to check its availability.
Find Jin Li at their flagship branch in Chinatown London. Unit 15, Central Cross, 16 -18 Newport Pl, London, WC2H 7PR. Visit their website.
While we haven't mentioned all the festive dishes, you should try around Chinatown London; make sure to wander around the area during the festive period. You're bound to find more seasonal delights from taro croquettes, roast duck, and osmanthus wine to some of the best mooncakes in London.