Review: Red Pocket Restaurant in Battersea
Published 7 June 2013
It is satisfying when you find a gem of a restaurant in the most unlikely places, and with Red Pocket, this is definitely the case. Not only is it located in an industrial estate in the London suburb of Battersea, but it is at the back of a hotel, and next to a helicopter landing pad.
Normally, all three of these (random location, hotel restaurant, and noisy neighbour) will put me off trying a new restaurant. But going through the menu of Red Pocket, what struck me was that the menu is both ambitious and creative – signs of a great head chef and kitchen team. I therefore decided to give it a go.
The restaurant itself is very tastefully decorated, in a modern sleek style, and lots of natural light from the tall glass to ceiling windows. There are two great views – depending on your preference – of either the Thames River, or of the Barclays Battersea London Heliport, where you can watch helicopters land or take-off. Indeed, during our lazy Sunday lunch meal there, we saw a helicopter land. Apparently, lots of celebrities pass through the Heliport, so you might be in for a treat!
We were going to go for the standard three course menu, at £30, as it seemed like a good deal, as it’s more like a four course menu as you get a separate vegetable dish and rice or noodles as well. But we were recommended to go for the “Ren style” signature set – a mammoth 10 courses – and it was definitely a great recommendation. This was one of the best meals, Asian or otherwise, I’ve had in London. At £58 per person, it isn’t cheap – but it was definitely value for money. The ingredients used were top notch (From king prawns to succulent beef, saffron to crab meat) and the portions generous.
So first, before reviewing some of the dishes, here are the pictures of what the Ren Style signature set menu consisted of:
Hot and Sour Soup
With corn Fed chicken and fungi
Steamed Mixed Xiao Long Bao
Corn fed chicken and blue swimming crab meat
Golden Fried Baby Squid
With curry and butter sauce
Saffron King Prawn
In crispy curry leaf
Roast Crispy Chicken
In Japanese sake sauce
Wok-Fried Beef Fillet
In red wine and black pepper sauce
Stir-Fried Pak Choi
Singapore Wok-Fried Noodle
Vegetarian Fried Rice (no picture)
I won’t discuss every single dish, but highlight the standouts from this menu (really hard to choose!), which are also available to order a la carte if you decide to go for a smaller meal.
First off, you have to order the steamed mixed xiao long bao. This is their signature dish – and you won’t find a similar one anywhere else in London. What makes it so special is the presentation: seven different coloured xiao long bao, with the colours coming from natural colouring, extracted from sweetcorn, yam, black sesame, pumpkin, and chives. In addition, these were the best xiao long bao I have tasted in London: the soup inside and the meat were just so juicy. I have had better in New York and Shanghai, but not in London.
The saffron king prawns were a delight – massive king prawns, in a rich and slightly spicy curry sauce that reminded me of a great Thai jungle curry sauce that I once had. And this is another great thing about Red Pocket – most good Chinese restaurants are only good at Chinese food, and stick to the basics without experimenting. At Red Pocket, the menu is mostly Chinese, but with infusions of other Asian flavours, for example this Thai jungle curry, and also the Japanese teriyaki sake sauce that came with the roast crispy chicken.
The wok fried beef fillet was very well presented visually, with a basket delicately made of fried vermicelli noodles. Not easy to make, and shows the dedication of the kitchen staff not only in sending out good tasting food, but also well presented food.
After such a great selection of starters and main courses, with expectations heightened from all the excellent dishes so far, the desserts were slightly of a letdown. We were offered two options – kiwi cheesecake or chocolate mousse, and so we took both to sample. Unfortunately, it seems like the kitchen’s prowess doesn’t quite extend to desserts – both were rather standard. The chocolate mousse will appeal to those that like ice cream, as it was creamier than a usual mousse. The kiwi cheesecake was slightly too sugary. They weren’t bad desserts – but they were neither creative nor excellent, like the rest of the dishes, and is one area that Red Pocket could improve in.
One gripe I have with the Ren Style signature menu are the portion sizes – they are generous, and in fact, if you’re going with a group of four, three portions might be enough to share between you.
Overall, I’m impressed that there is such a good Chinese restaurant out in Battersea – it is probably the best Chinese restaurant in South West London, and probably on the top ten list for the whole of London. It is slightly pricey, but you do get value for what you pay for. And this is the perfect place in London to come for helicopter watching, if you’re an avid helicopter fan.
Red Pocket Restaurant
Address: Hotel Verta by Rhombus, Bridges Wharf, Battersea, London SW11 3BE
Cuisine: Modern Chinese with Asian infusion
Reservations: 020 7801 3535