Ma La Sichuan, Westminster, London
When I recall my dining experiences with Ma La Sichuan I think: those were great meals, smooth service, with a nice authentic air and a great price to match. Based in my former home turf of Westminster, Ma La Sichuan specialises in modern Sichuan cuisine. The Sichuan cuisine, if you’re new to it, brings bold, spicy flavours as a result of the region’s kitchens’ liberal use of garlic and chilli peppers.
Sichuan you back
Ma La Sichuan is a little hidden away. Despite living in the area for six months I had never walked past the restaurant at all. But it is so buzzy so you won’t miss it once you’re on the right street. For a busy night I’d recommend booking, as the first time I ventured I was unable to get a table. Instead I got my takeaway and still had a good time at home on my lonesome. Obviously not going to look the most flattering food, but the dumplings were super yum and the sweet and sour pork was just what I was craving. Ma La Sichuan is nicely priced, most of the mains are around the £10 mark which is great stuff for (kind of?) central London.
I had a much more photogenic, and much more satisfying experience the second time around. It was a Sunday night (so generally not too busy) but I booked just in case as I’d have two extra diners as company. We ordered three starters to share and three mains to share – a perfect plan in the end.
Start a plan
The starters included the chicken and pork dumplings (recommended dishes from the restaurant by the way) and the spring rolls. The spring rolls were good but didn’t light my fire, but the dumplings were awesome. Nice, light chewy pastry and accompanied by some delicious sauces. I liked the pork dumplings more, but the peanut sauce that came with the chicken ones were better. I didn’t find any of the dishes from here that spicy (keep in mind my spice tolerance is quite low anyway), other than the chilli chicken which is pretty much HALF chillis.
Staff at Ma La Sichuan were lovely and we felt well looked after – not such a theme when it comes to authentic Chinese dining, haha. Some of my favourite Chinese restaurants include fond memories of the staff telling us to hurry up or eye rolling us if we picked bad. Back in Westminster, we were onto mains, and it all came out in quick succession.
Spice and all things nice
I enjoyed all three of the dishes we choose. Good work team! The fragrant chilli chicken (£12.50) featured fried chicken pieces alongside a LOT of chilli. Mindful of my spice tolerance, I was careful what I was scooping and I achieved a safe level of heat. As with a lot of Chinese restaurants, there’s a lot of menu to pick from. I found there to be less on the Sichuan (spicy that it will burn your face) side and more of the standard Chinese cuisine. This isn’t a bad thing- both the black pepper beef and the braised pork belly were great. Of the two I preferred the pork belly a little more, but the beef disappeared faster from our table.
I’m glad I made it back to Ma La Sichuan as the dining experience elevated everything that little bit more. The dumplings here are particularly special and I’d high recommend, but at these prices I think everything is fair value. A perfect option when you’re in a not so cheap neighbourhood.