Chamber Thirty Six
Berry Street, Liverpool
Review by Lawrence Saunders
I don’t know about you but, for me, the best bit about a Chinese banquet is the starters; siu mai, crispy duck and pancakes, spring rolls, prawn toast…the list of delicious appetizers is almost endless.
Also, by the time the mains come I’m already half stuffed so when I heard about Chamber Thirty Six and its ‘Pan-Asian tapas’ menu I couldn’t wait to try it out.
Perched on the end of Berry Street within sight of Chinatown, Chamber Thirty Six couldn’t be more dissimilar to Nelson Street’s plethora of Chinese restaurants in its style.
Named after the fabled point of inner harmony and peace sought by the famous Shaolin monks, it offers a modern take on Oriental cuisine focused around dim sum.
After being shown to a spacious window booth, my dining partner and I had a chance to study the menu which was packed full of many of our Chinese and Thai favourites.
On the advice of our wonderfully helpful and bubbly waitress, we chose five small plates and one side which we were told would be just the right amount for two people.
As we waited to find out if she was right, it was time to sample a cocktail from an extensive list which includes signature creations, classics, and the intriguingly titled Hung Gar (The Hard Way) and Wing Chun (The Soft Way) sections.
I kicked (sorry) things off with the Bruce Lee-Chini (£7) from the signature selection. It was a delicate and refreshing mix of Absolut Vodka, Kwai Fei lychee liqueur, watermelon and lime.
Meanwhile my partner found her Rasp-berry Street (£7) – Beefeater gin, Chambord and violet liqueur shaken with fresh raspberries and lemon – the perfect accompaniment for a summer night out.
As we slurped down the last of our cocktails, the first of our small plates emerged; calamari (£5.60); pan-fried asparagus (£4.70) and satay chicken skewers (£5.50).
Mid-bite on a calamari ring and my date politely informed me that she isn’t in fact a massive fan of squid (apparently she’s told me this before).
Unfortunately this meant I had to eat the lot. Somehow I found the strength to wolf down every deliciously salty piece with a substantial helping of garlic mayonnaise.
Thankfully the asparagus was much more to my partner’s taste – as were the skewers which delicately combined a rich satay sauce with subtle chargrilled chicken.
Next onto the table were the evening’s star trio; aromatic duck pancakes (£5.90); salt and pepper siu mai (£5.60) and salt and pepper chips (£3.00).
The duck pancakes, often the highlight of any Chinese feast, didn’t disappoint with my only gripe being that I wished the portion size was bigger, but that’s me just being greedy.
Onto the siu mai. Every other time I’ve sampled these little steamed bundles of joy they’ve been on the soggy side. I’m not sure whether this is the way they’re meant to come out but these delightful dumplings had a lovely delicately crispy outer.
Bathed in a heavenly salt and pepper mix, there’s no doubt these beauties were my standout dish of the night.
Meanwhile the salt and pepper chips, a staple of any self-respecting chippy tea, were magnificent – even if they did look like supermarket-bought crinkle cut fries.
Eyeing up the dessert menu I congratulated our waitress on her spot on advice – five plates and a side had left us suitably full with just enough space for a pudding.
And what a pudding it was. Nutella chocolate spring rolls (£4.50) – with a name like that, need I say more? Go try them now.
Chamber Thirty Six does, of course, do main meals and I’m sure they’re great, but for me this alternative running order is the only way to go.
Cocktails, starters and a pudding – who could say no? I’m sold.