When you do a Google search for Chop Chop, the strap line â€˜Edinburghâ€™s favourite restaurantâ€™ pops up. A click through to the website, and there is a proud boast: a billion people canâ€™t be wrong.
Before this visit, I had heard rave reviews about Chop Chop, the gist of which had been â€˜amazing dumplingsâ€™, â€˜the best Chinese everâ€™ and â€˜Formica tables but fab foodâ€™.
The front of shop, on Morrison Street in the city centreâ€™s Haymarket area, is bright and cheerful. Itâ€™s a slightly run down part of town, and the traffic can be heavy along the thoroughfare outside. However, things are improving with the opening of upmarket gin bar, The Jolly Botanist, a couple of doors down, and signs of more development to come.
My dining partner and I were both new to the Chop Chop experience, so were grateful to the waiter who actually got down on one knee to propose our menu choice.
All dishes are brought out as they are ready, and are shared among the diners. The award-winning dumplings, made from fresh ingredients by Chop Chop, and noodles were high on our list, so we plumped for pork and coriander guo tie (fried) dumplings, mustard and peanut butter noodles, crispy Northern beef and aubergine with garlic.
Conversation turned from yakety yak to clackety clack as we took up our chopsticks and began pinching and twirling our feast mouth-wards. The noodles were served cold as the oil in peanut butter separates whilst cooking, but our waiter explained this when we ordered so there were no surprises. It was truly delicious. Our superb waiter also showed us how to mix a dipping sauce using just a touch of chilli to add spice, which added an element of fun and a talking point to dining here.
Our dumplings seemed more soft and boiled than crispy, but nonetheless went down a treat. The beef was a triumph â€“ just the right crispiness â€“ and the aubergine tricky to tackle with chop sticks, but a welcome compliment to the other dishes.
Although both full, my dining partner and I couldnâ€™t resist one of the sweet specialities â€“ sugar string apple with sorbet. Essentially it was like eating toffee apple and involved a hands on approach; alongside the dish of sugared apple strips was a bowl of iced water. Take an apple strip, dip it into the water and hey presto, a solidified, chewy toffee apple comes out. Great fun.
The night we visited, there was a quiet, laid-back atmosphere. In fact, the sound of crunching prawn crackers could be heard throughout the restaurant. It is a no frills environment, but the food really takes centre stage over surroundings. The only let-down was the toilet which needed a bit of a clean.
That certainly wonâ€™t stop me returning to Chop Chop. The food more than lived up to the hype.
Our meal cost Â£51.00 excluding drinks.
Chop Chop, 248 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8DT. Tel. 0131 221 1155