Humbly situated on one of Leicester’s busiest roads, Karamay boasts authentic halal (western) Chinese cuisine. If you’re looking for something other than steaks, burgers or your usual Indian food, you’d be silly to not visit this place. Unless of course, you don’t like the taste of China (let’s face it, who doesn’t?).
London Road has a variety of restaurants and cuisines to offer, but if you’re looking for a new dining experience, Kara – may just give you that. See what I did there? Moving swiftly on to the review…
I visited the restaurant just over 2 months back, when it wasn’t so high up on the foodie radar. It was a Saturday night, accompanied by two other friends. We went without a reservation because they said they were small and didn’t take bookings.
On arrival the last table had just been taken, which meant that we’d have had to wait around half an hour at least until we got a place. This was pretty annoying, but understandable due to the limited space available. The staff were kind enough to keep the upcoming space for us as we waited in the car.
Once seated and nearly in the state of death due to hunger, we chose our starters and decided on our mains too. Knowing that they served halal duck, I already knew I wanted to try this. I asked the neighbouring table who had ordered the duck whether it was nice. Their only commented was that the sauce was a bit tangy and not for them, but I went with my guts and got me some crispy duck.
For starters we had fried dumplings and chicken pastry. The dumplings were decent, I personally feel like they weren’t authentic enough, but I’ve never been to China so I could be wrong. They reminded me of the ones you get in Wok in and Wok out. The pastry was again decent, similar to an Indian style chicken pastry. Perhaps not the best of decisions for starters?
Moving on to the mains, we ordered were steak and noodles, sweet and sour soup and of course China’s infamous dishes, the crispy duck with a plum sauce.
The steak was saucy beef strips with a hell of a load of peppers. Pieces doused in a hot and soy saucy dressing with egg noodles. A nice little dish, not too overpowering with flavours, yet didn’t quite have that umph. It needed more beef.
Next up the soup. It was more (spicy) hot and sour than sweet and sour if that makes sense? I didn’t find any hint of sweetness whatsoever. I don’t mind spicy, but I really like Chinese styled sweet and sour soup and this was not that. A friend who doesn’t like sweet soup actually tried it and really enjoyed it. It needs a name change me thinks – apart from that it was nice.
Onto the final dish. The strips of duck came with a side of tarte plum sauce and a basket of uber thin Chinese savoury pancakes, about 9 in total. I placed the pieces in the middle of a pancake and dressed it very lightly in some dollops of the plum sauce.) One mouthful and I could definitely confirm that they were crispy. I can’t quite explain what duck tastes like. It has the texture of chicken, but more closer to the taste of well-cooked lamb with a ‘duck aftertaste’? The plum sauce was quite tarte so added a bit of sweet tang to it which gave it more flavour. My friends weren’t too keen on the sauce, however they did like the duck dish in general. I think that if you went overboard with the sauce, it would be a bit too overpowering for some to handle. I was rather impressed with the dish and it was my favourite out of them all.
The atmosphere was busy and we were tight for space, with three against a table of two. The staff were very friendly and helpful, but I felt that they needed another waiter/waitress, because it was so busy on a Saturday night. Needless to say the food was good, some dishes weren’t amazing as hoped, but good. I just like the fact that it offered some different items you wouldn’t usually get. I definitely would pay another visit and try out some of their other dishes.
Atmosphere: *** 3/5
Service: **** 4/5 (short staffed and slow in my opinion)
Food: **** 4/5