Dalchini Restaurant, SW19
Situated in the heart of Wimbledon Park, Dalchini is a delightful little restaurant serving unique ‘fusion’ cuisine. The Chinese chef born and raised in India has created a menu full of flavour, spice and everything needed to tattle those taste buds. The cuisine is referred to as ‘Hakka Chinese’ cuisine and is the type of Chinese food you would find in India-Indian ingredients with Chinese cooking methods. The combination, if created correctly is awesome. Dalchini has been around a while and is popular with the locals, but if you’re not a Wimbledon resident, it’s a hidden gem.
There are so many good dishes at Dalchini, it’s hard to say which are the best. For starters, the ‘Fish Koliwada’ is succulent and flavoursome as well as the ‘Chilli Squid’ that is even more tantalising. If you appreciate chilli in your food then this is the starter for you. The spring rolls and sesame prawn toast are all up to standard but why go for such regular starters when you can have something like ‘Hong Kong Paneer’ or ‘Spicy Chicken Lollipops’? Hong Kong Paneer although a starter isn’t a dry dish, it’s more like a dry curry, but the flavours of chilli and star anise are certainly refreshing. Another paneer dish that is incredible is ‘Paneer Szechuan’. A gorgeous tomato based curry cooked with vegetables and aromatic spices. As far as main courses go, there’s a great selection to choose from, and what I like most is that it’s not just the same style of dishes available in chicken, lamb and fish like in a lot of Indian and Chinese restaurants but each category of meat has its own range of dishes. My favourites include ‘Kung Po Chicken’ and ‘Lamb with Dry Red Chilli’. Fresh and fragrant, this dish is exactly what it says it is and it’s the red chilli that really hits the spot. Kung Po Chicken is exquisite and by far the best chicken option.
With food so brilliant, it’s shame the decor is so dated and crockery/cutlery so mediocre. Service has improved since I last visited though, with waiters being friendlier than in the past. The staff do seem to be run off their feet even though it is a pretty small restaurant, which probably only seats up to 40-50 diners at fully capacity. Dalchini boasts that there is no MSG (Monosodium glutamate) or microwave used in their kitchens, everything is cooked fresh, which is why it takes a while for the food to be served. I can believe that they don’t use microwaves as the food always arrives incredibly hot and stays that way for a while. Although not everything tastes that fresh all of the time, I will just have to take their word for it- waiting a while for the food is a small price to pay if indeed the food is prepared then and there. Some dishes I would stay away from are ‘American Chicken Chop Suey’. Red and glutenous and too sweet for a chicken dish, this one’s not for me. It’s supposed to be a favourite in India but I find it hard to believe that it’s popular here, as the menu suggests it is.
If you’re looking for something slightly different to your local Indian or Chinese, Dalchini is the place for you. It is also part of the ‘Tastecard’ scheme, which gives you 50% off the bill currently.
Halal status: All meat halal as verified by staff/Alcohol served/No pork
Address:47 Arthur Rd, London SW19 8AB