Ekachai (South East Asian) – King’s Cross, LondonHALAL STATUS • Halal chicken • Prepped and cooked separately
Having opened only last month, Ekachai in King’s Cross is the brand’s fifth London restaurant.
The southeast Asian specialists cater for Halal chicken across all their branches.
FtL has been informed: “We use halal chicken in all chicken dishes in all branches of Ekachai.
“We have three pork items: pork dumplings, char siu pork, and ribs. These are both prepped and cooked in a different section in the kitchen [sic]. With all dishes, the woks are washed out thoroughly after each dish is cooked.”
Regarding the use of alcohol or pork-related ingredients in their dishes, then Ekachai has confirmed with us: “No; we do not use any alcohol in marinades or any other pork products except the three mentioned above. The only alcohol we have is from our bar.”
Focusing on the streetfood of Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong, Ekachai says it specialises in the tradition and skill of wok cooking and stir frying, with locations in Liverpool Street, Oxford Street’s Selfridges, Wandsworth, and the Flat Iron Square in Bankside.
The King’s Cross branch has a capacity of 48. With wooden light shades that give a symmetrical look above, there’s a beautiful painting of an attractive Oriental lady at the back, adjacent to a black and white illustration of a busy market place.
We use halal chicken in all chicken dishes in all branches of Ekachai… both prepped and cooked in a different section in the kitchen.
Beverages of a simple kind here, with a standard pulpy, green Mango Lassi; a Red Juice that promised and managed to deliver a sweet strawyberry and orange combo flavour; and a Coconut Water & Lychee Juice that was decently balanced though fairly insipid. Like we said, simple!
More of these addictive Salt & Pepper Tofu please! Well seasoned crispy cubes that were soft on the inside with a good kick of ginger.
It was the addition of the chilli slices, however, which, when had with the sweet chilli dip, married in such a way as to lift these to another level. Like we said, addictive!
It was the fishy-cum-chilli sauce that made this dish what it was. Now, given how utterly good the Sambal chilli sauce accompaniment was, it really didn’t matter that the subtle taste of this soft shelled crab, with its gorgeously light and crispy exterior, was altogether lost against the strength of the dip.
Hence, we can understand why it’s been designated the restaurant’s most popular Little Plate.
These Prawn & Scallop Siu Mai were soft and fragrant and pretty good.
The vinegary-sweet edge of the soya sauce combined well with the apparent taste of prawn in these dainty little packages.
These Chicken Satay were well judged, being soft and relatively succulent on the inside and lightly crispy on the out.
These skewers had a gentle sesame marination that went well with the sweet, viscous peanut sauce sprinkled with crumbled peanuts.
A well conceived salad where the tender and soft cold prawns were, along with the crispy leaves, dressed in a light dressing, whose sour edge was nicely countered by the sweet fruity smoothness of the mango slices therein. All in all, a light and refreshing bowl that was pleasant without being memorable.
NOTE: All the main dishes had below were designated by the restaurant as the most popular of their respective categories.
Despite looking the part, the major shortcoming with this Seafood Curry Laksa was its intensity of flavour, or lack thereof.
In spite of the well cooked noodles and prawns, generous amounts of tofu, and two average quality mussels that were erring on the side of chewy, the spices and the lemon grass didn’t really come through as much as we’d have expected. We also felt as though the coconut sauce could have been slightly thicker and more robust.
In the end, if you’re after a lightly spiced laksa, then this will be perfect.
This Malaysian Chicken Kapitan was a strange dish in that whilst the initial hit of the spices and chilli were redolent and quite strong, their intensity quickly waned to leave a peculiarly mellow curry.
Nonetheless, with the familiar taste of the kafir lime leaves coming through, the curry was fragrant and aromatic enough, containing really nicely cooked chicken, and would definitely suit a palate seeking after something warm and comforting.
WOK FRIED RICE & NOODLES
A satisfying and thoughtfully presented Nasi Goreng which came with two slices of cucumber, a slice of tomato, and what appeared to be dried onions (or perhaps even dried egg), along with chilli sauce meant to be added to taste.
This famous Malaysian dish had shredded chicken, diced red and green peppers, and a few slices of red chilli mixed into a quite viscid and subtly spiced wok-fried rice concoction. A good, wholesome dish which was brought alive by the strength of the fruity chilli sauce.
The sticky consistency of the noodles tossed in with the soft scrambled egg and the crispy wet beansprouts, made for an interesting Pad Thai, particularly with crushed peanuts, chilli flakes and a wedge of lime cleverly presented on the side.
What this allowed us to do was to gradually build up on the heat and sourness of the dish in order to counter the naturally mild sweetness of the noodles. Once satisfied with the balance, we added the peanuts for some textural contrast.
In the end, not only did this make for a thought-provoking meal, but an extremely tasty one too.
WOK STIR FRIES
But what made this Kai Krapow far more interesting was the crispy, fried lime leaves that not only provided some textural contrast, but a fragrance that ultimately lifted the dish.
The only criticism we could draw was that the accompanying rice should have been stickier so as to make it easier to eat with chopsticks.
Having said that though, if you’re fancying a hot flavourful plate of food, then this is the one to get.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED FACILITIES
And yet, going by the smooth and efficient service and ultra-friendly waiters, you'd never have guessed this opened only last month.
The food was as fresh as you'd like and expect it to be from a restaurant emulating the various street food styles and cuisines of South East Asia, with some dishes offering strong, punchy flavours and others rotating around the delicate and subtle.
And though it's decor was deliberately minimalistic in nature, the wooden seats did start to take their toll on our collective behinds after a while.
But, such a quibble can certainly be forgiven when taking into consideration Ekachai's impressive prices, particularly given the location, in relation to the generous portions served for almost every dish.
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