My friend Felicity and I ventured north of the river last week, to try out ULI. This is a Pan-Asian restaurant, offering an enticing-looking selection of Chinese, Thai, Singaporean and Malay dishes; it’s handy for Notting Hill tube, situated on a quiet corner of a mainly residential road, opposite a handsomely refurbished Victorian cabmen’s shelter.
An attractive restaurant both inside and out…
ULI itself looked most attractive on a warm spring evening, its glassed-in front extension banked up with pretty pink hydrangeas.
It was bustling, and we felt lucky to be given one of the quiet tables in the pleasant cool outside area, whose retractable canvas awning, rugs and heaters presumably make it useable for most of the year.
The ground-floor interior is attractive too, with its white walls and blonde wood and blue accents, but noiser with background music, and the buzz from the bar. Downstairs is a smaller private dining space, as well as the loos.
…and dog friendly too
The other diners on a Thursday evening were of all ages, and clearly mostly local; a few had even brought their dogs along, but when Felicity suggested that my own would have enjoyed the outing, I had to point out that he’d have had a hard job squeezing in. (He’s a retired racing greyhound. And the tables are quite close together….).
London is still a villagey place, we agreed; certainly Notting Hill felt quite different to SW11, somehow. Certainly some of the prices were higher: starters £4-£14, main courses £11- £35. A very reasonable £9.95 two-course set lunch is available on weekdays,
As we studied the menu we sipped nicely-chilled glasses of Stella d’Italia Prosecco noting that the Lychee Martinis served at the next table also looked intriguing.
For our starters we decided on Hunan pork dumplings, crispy calamari and spicy scallops. Together these made a great balance of textures and flavours, with for us the scallops the stars of the show. We’d moved on to a smooth white Languedoc Viognier (Baron de Badassière) which complimented the seafood in particular nicely.
Then came the main dishes, and a moment’s tension. Would our smiling waitress be able to fit all of them at once onto this rather small table?
But somehow she managed. The firm fresh-tasting Thai sea bass fillet steamed with chilli and lemongrass, stir-fried beef fillet with spicy black pepper sauce, steamed jasmine rice and beautiful deep-green chinese broccoli with garlic sauce proved a delicious and harmonious assembly.
Desserts worth waiting for
After that there was something of a hiatus, as the restaurant emptied out and we struggled to catch somebody’s eye. But our chosen desserts – sticky toffee banana fritters and coconut mochi (rice cake stuffed with balls of ice cream) were well worth the wait, even if we had to forego coffee.
All in all it was a very pleasant outing to a different kind of neighbourhood, and a truly delicious meal.
ULI Restaurant, 5 Ladbroke Road, London W11 3PA. ulilondon.com