Review: Tam Ting, Chalk Farm Road

There’s a new Asian tapas spot in the former Silks & Spices. So is it any cop?

Selection of sharing plates. Photo: Stephen Emms
After ploughing our way through the heaving Stables Market one lunchtime the other week, we found ourselves deciding spontaneously to get a table at Tam Ting, the new dim-sum-and-cocktails joint across the road. It’s the latest in a slew of failed sequels to the once popular and pioneering Silks & Spices.

The low-lit, bare-bricked space is dotted with emerald banquettes, crowned with a vast open kitchen and glowing with the fresh-faced sheen of a shiny opening.

When we swung by, the place was tranquil: lone diners sat reading the paper, nibbling on dumplings as they sipped on green tea, while eager staff excitedly murmured amongst themselves.

Landmark corner site on Chalk Farm Road. Photo: SE
The menu was pleasantly short: no pages of confusing plates here. A bravely named Dark Fungus Ear proved as, er, brave as its name would suggest. The small plate of steamrolled brown mushrooms came huddled together, every morsel of the bat-wing-like concoction melting in the mouth, with a light peanut vinaigrette clustered in each crevice. In fact, every slither was fought over until the last flap was nabbed.

The dumplings arrived soon after: snuggled up in their bamboo baskets, a trio of silky-smooth steamed pockets came pleated around a chive and coriander dressed prawn. With the prod of a chopstick, each prized effortlessly from its nook, the tender crunch of fish meeting the flabby dough, while the mellow flavours were boosted by the accompanying ginger and vinegar dipping sauce.

Those ears! Photo: SE
Sitting alongside this was a saucer of aptly named Vegetable Boats, still sizzling, the four little gondola-shaped gyozas plucked from the pan moments before. With a crunch, the slightly seared shells revealed a soft umami mush of minutely diced vegetables. Not so appealing? Steamed chicken gyoza, less crispy, a little greasy and more glutinous. The only miss.

To accompany, fiery wasabi peas and Yam Yam tatties, hunky sweet potato fries slathered in salt, gone in seconds.

After paying we asked around and managed to find owner Candy, who it transpires also has two bubble tea joints in Soho. “We’re an Asian restaurant,” she said. “But we aren’t specific about our origins as we didn’t want to cordon ourselves off to just one nation, instead using spices, recipes and ingredients found all over the region.”

And that’s not all. “This is just the start. We will soon be adding a karaoke room and bubble tea hub.” Good to ’ear.

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Plates from £4.50 with lunch deals. 27-8 Chalk Farm Road NW1. More here.

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