What looks like ten-years’ worth (and counting) of melted candle wax on the floor just inside the doorway is a strange quirk of an otherwise large and elegant room, though low ceilings and a paucity of lighting can make the place seem quite dark. Emchai is an established restaurant, with Malay and Chinese dishes to the fore and a long-standing local reputation, but was surprisingly empty on a Saturday lunchtime.
Starters (averaging £6) and mains (£7) differ very little in cost, though from our recent experience it seems that starters are better value. Beef in rendang curry was tender, as if slow-cooked, but the brown slick of sauce lacked depth, tasting mainly of soy and desiccated coconut. Kung po chicken – part of a cheap weekend lunch deal – was unremarkable.
The food could have been from any average Chinese takeaway in London, were it not for the starters: crisp battered prawns with a nice wallop of wasabi, and a small plate of moreish soft-shell crab – both beautifully presented and executed. Service was gracious and welcoming.
78 High Street
|Opening hours:||Lunch served noon-2.30pm daily. Dinner served 6-11pm Mon-Thur; 6pm-midnight Fri, Sat; 5-10pm Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: High Barnet|
|Price:||Main courses £4.20-£8.90. Set meal £18.90-£21.50 per person (minimum 2)|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
5 / 5
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Excellent. Best chinese in Barnet hands - down. Love the decor, food was amazing (salt & spicy baby squids especially) Service was excellent, we were offered a drink almost as soon as we sat down. Complimentary prawn crackers were on the table when we arrived. Cannot rate this restaurant highly enough. We are new regulars for sure and look forward to my next visit.
A gem for this area. Lovely manager. I recommend the chicken with Thai basil...but watch out for those chillies.The gado gado is a great starter too. As mentioned above the very decent house Chenin Blanc, goes well with food as does the Tiger beer in freezer chilled glasses. Give it a go.