★★★★ | Uli, London
One of the most beautiful restaurants in Notting Hill is serving up Pan Asian food at very good prices.
Uli, just 2 minutes walk from Notting Hill tube station, is very recognisable by its glass-enclosed front where once you walk in you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world. Dishes such as Triple-cooked Dover Sole with asparagus, garlic and spring onion; Crispy shredded chilli beef, Moo Shu pork, chicken or tofu, among others, give you food choices that are much better quality than what you would find in Chinatown. The night me and a friend went for dinner on a late July evening it was raining, so unfortunately the rooftop was closed – but that was fine because we felt cozy and warm and were well taken care of by the very friendly staff and manager, and treated like VIPs.
For starters we had Peppercorn salted prawns (very good but for six a bit pricey at £12), Asparagus with black bean, chilli and ginger (fresh and wonderful – £9), and Chicken Gyoza (good – 4 for £7). The starters are a bit pricey – so choose carefully.
The Sweet and Sour Chicken (£13) with Egg Fried Rice (£5.50) was nothing exceptional and was just as you would expect. We also had a bowl of delicious green beans (not on the menu!), crunchy, and just like the asparagus, a bit spicey, but very very good.
The Crispy Aromatic Duck was the star dish of the evening. Nicely well-cooked, and served with pancakes, scallions, cucumber, and an amazing-tasting Housin duck sauce. The duck was well done – a bit crunchy, and tasteful, and it comes in three different price levels (£16 – 1/4; £29 – 1/2; and £48 – whole). Highly recommended.
If you chose to have a cocktail, please go for the Lychee Martini – vodka, vermouth, lychee – and is sweet and delicious. Their Expresso Martini, however, did not have the flavour or kick that I’m accustomed to. If you are not a cocktail lover, try one of their many beers or Sakes, or wines which come from a variety of European countries.
Desserts are in abundance but after all the food you’ve eaten you will want to something not too heavy. The Mochi Ice Cream (£3 per piece) is light, delicious, and is wrapped in a rice coating over the ice cream – just perfection.
Uli, which is the Chinese word for tranquility, is just that. Soft music, sleek tables and warm-looking plates, great international staff, an upper middle class clientele the night we were there, all adds up to a dining experience, that while not a destination place, is a perfect place for the local area. And when you do go there, pick a seat along the windows in the atrium, so cozy and nice you’ll never want to leave. I didn’t.