August 19, 2011 Chinese, West End No Comments

It’s bright. I’ll give it that.

Blythe’s Verdict

Today, was an extremely exciting day for us, as we were joined on our quest by the record-breaking comedian and all-round good egg. Caroline is Lunch Quest’s favourite comedian at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. You should go and see her show. So, we were off to a good start.

The multi-award-winning Chop Chop was our chosen venue. Now an established Edinburgh institution, Chop Chop works to a simple formula: it’s the everyday food of Chinese dinner tables served and presented simply, in no-frills surroundings.

It offers an abbreviated list (and actual separate little list for you to fill in) from their main menu, as a lunch deal. You can choose a soup/noodle dish, a dumpling dish, and a couple of sides for £8.50. You can augment that with dishes from the main menu, as well.

The tick the box lunch menu

We duly completed our multiple-choice exams, adding a serving of green beans, for good measure.

Food arrived quickly, with chicken wings and potatoes & ribs coming my way. The chicken wings were fine. The potatoes & ribs were an odd combination (if they were a combination at all). The potatoes were fine. The meat of the ribs fell of the bone, was very soft, but was completely bland. The link between the two? It wasn’t clear to me.

ribs…even the ‘enhancement’ setting on my Mac doesn’t help it

Spicy noodles then arrived. Readers will grow to learn of my incompetence with eating a range of dishes. Noodles and spaghetti are right up there with the best of them. I don’t know why I continue ordering either of them. What I ate of the noodles (the rest of the time was spent playing with them, which is my usual tactic) was good, with pleasingly fierce spiciness.

My fried chilli beef dumplings were next. They each contained soft bland meat, which was pleasant but unremarkable. I managed to squirt one of them precisely over the screen of my BlackBerry, in another manifestation of my well-honed eating incompetence.

The ribs and potatoes, the spicy noodles and the crispy potatoes of Blythe’s lunch

The mix. Those wee bowls are our own dipping sauce mixtures

I sampled the green beans. They were good.

The pickled potato dish was odd. The crispy potato dish was like the scraps out of the deep fryer at the end of the night.

So, I’d have to say it was a very mixed bag.

Anyone who can succinctly explain to me what it is that I’m missing with Chop Chop would be welcomed with open arms. For me it’s totally ordinary, completely mediocre, bland and inoffensive, much like their food. I just can’t see what it is that inspires the level of adulation it attracts.

Crispy potatoes and chicken wings

MJ’s Verdict

Chop Chop has so much going for it. I mean, there’s the interior decoration, the opulent seating and the menu that goes on for days. No, wait. That’s Chef Lee’s from back home. No, Chop Chop is a no-frills, good food kinda place. And, that was just the problem with it. It was…expectedly, standardly good.

I suppose I should explain what I mean. The colours are bright, the windows big and drawing in the few moments of Edinburgh sun, the menu is not overwhelming, but is substantial enough to give breadth. The service was efficient, though it seemed to come in waves. They asked us to order about 3 times in 5 minutes and then didn’t seem to reappear till we had to catch their attention to ask for the bill. Not a problem, but it was sporadic.

So, the food. The wee sheets of paper that were handed out as a lunch menu were interesting. Tick a few boxes here and there and wa-la! A short time later loads of food arrives at the table in no particular order. It simply comes out as it is cooked. As a result, we received fried potato pieces, my pickled potato salad, ribs and potatoes and chicken wings at the same time. This was followed momentarily by our huge bowls of soup.

We think the my potato salad was the raw version of the fried potatoes

I don’t do fried foods, so I handed off the fried potatoes, which were said to be a bit too salty, but what Blythe and I decided must just be the result of frying the pickled potato salad that I ordered. I admit, the picked potatoes were a bit odd, but I kept going back to them over and over, a pretty good palate cleanser. The ribs looked like a sad affair and I was secretly glad I avoided them, but I’d say the highlight of the meal were the green beans in a slightly spicy rub and stir fried with garlic and a few spring onions. I ordered them after reading of many people suggesting them and the ‘billion’ are not wrong.

the lovely green beans

The beef noodle soup was as good or better than any I’ve had. I admit that I don’t eat much beef noodle soup, but if I did I would want it to taste something like this. I appreciate that I could actually taste the nuttiness of the (what I believe were) wheat noodles, though the soup could have used more pieces of meat (I had 3 bites) and some more veg for real body.

Beefy noodle soup. mmm.

Overall, everything was good. Good, but not memorable. Good value for the lunch price, but I’m not sure I appreciated it enough to return for dinner to try the more extensive menu. Good, but I’m not sure I’d give it the accolade as the second best Chinese restaurant in the UK, or go through the trouble of making reservations for lunch…which is almost a guaranteed necessity.

Oh, and I forgot the dumplings. I forgot them, surely that speaks enough? Or maybe I am just overly partial to places that specialize in dim sum.

Boiled dumplings with some sort of porky filling
The funny woman’s lunch

the wet wipes and promo were a nice touch at the end of the meal

Celebrity Guest ‘s Verdict

Hello, I am and Lunch Quest is my favourite Edinburgh lunch appreciation blog.

I very much enjoyed my outing to Chop Chop with the team. The highlight for me was the mix-your-own dipping sauce, which made my chicken dumplings very tasty and improved the rather bland hot and sour soup.

My hunch is that had we strayed from the Business Lunch set menu we would have discovered much more delicious and exotic treats. I only glanced briefly over the full menu but it did look intriguing. And I saw some aubergines looking beguiling at the next table.

I also enjoyed the strange busker who came in, sang one song and left without asking for money. Plus the customer at the next table with a Rubik’s Cube gave the place an other-worldly feel.

Scores on the Doors

Out of 20 Blythe gives Chop Chop:

3/5 for food

3/5 for presentation

3/5 for service

2/5 for setting

giving an overall 11/20

Out of 20 Miriam gives Chop Chop:

3/5 for food

2/5 for presentation

2/5 for service

3/5 for setting

giving an overall 10/20

Today’s Lunch Questers were: Miriam, Caroline, Gary, Blythe.

We wore: Belstaff jacket, ’s bag containing ’s One Minute Silence bags, cream trousers, brown tripping brogues.

We ate: Crispy potato, pickled potato, potato and ribs, chicken wings, beef noodle soup, hot and sour soup, spicy noodles, chicken dumplings, beef dumplings, pork and chive dumplings, green beans.

We drank: Sparkly water, Coke.

Total Bill: c.£50

Chop Chop

248 Morrison Street


Chop Chop on Urbanspoon

Written by TheDudley

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