Temple of Heaven – Pretty decent Chinese food on Broad Street

Temple of Heaven serving up some pretty decent Chinese Food are tucked away down at the end of Broad Street. I am always on the look out for a hidden Chinese gem so I wandered into town to check them out. They seemed to be off the beaten track and kind of off the radar as well which was already sounding like a good thing. 

The place was packed out with young Asians all picking away at plates of delicious looking food. This was clearly not going to be a spot dealing just in the Westernised Chinese Stuff. I was pretty sure that there was going to be a hidden Chinese menu with all the really good stuff on it.

I was happy enough to be handed the shiny laminated menu full of pictures just in case I didn’t know what food looked like. On my table was a board offering a hot pot and other specials that I could not read, it looked great. This spot looked to be the kind of place I could be in love with quite quickly.

I already knew what I was looking for, some kind of braised meat in a pot and hopefully a bowl of Hot and Sour soup. I was in luck on both counts as they had stuff I wanted. 

I ordered a dish of the Hong Shao Rou (Red Braised Pork) or ‘Pork in Brown Sauce’ as they had called it on my plastic coated menu. It was lucky that they did have pictures and that I knew what I was really ordering, as if you just went on that description you might bypass this dish and miss out on a real treat.

The Bowl is filled with soft sliced chunks of slow braised belly pork. Now I have seen this in places where they have crisped up or rendered down the fat, but I have to say that I like it better the way it is cooked here at Temple with a soft almost gelatinous layer of fat. There is something quite comforting and a little bit decadent about this more humble preparation. The actual meat that was cooked slowly in the pot was really so very tender

There is a lot of great flavour in this dish, although you think it is going to be spicy and sweet, in compared to many Sichuan dishes it is pretty tame really and it is all about the way that it feels in your mouth.

It is a tiny bit sweet as the sauce is from a brown syrup typically made with rock candy but by the time it has been mixed into the Pork stock the sweetness is pulled back a few notches. The melted candy in the sauce creates a glossy coat all over the pork cubes. The addition of star anise, dried orange peel, dried chilli, yellow rice wine and soy sauce just add to the stock and creates an awesome subtle flavour that is literally clinging onto the meat slowly creeping along your tongue onto your taste buds

There are also a good handful of Chinese greens wilted into the sauce and if like me you fish some of it out into your little bowl of rice with your chopsticks you can get a nice bit of crunch to go with the soft pork.

This really is one of those dishes best eaten with the chopsticks so that you can pick out the different bits of flavour and balance your own mouthful.

I really liked this dish and it reminded me of my days working at the Chinese Academy in Wuhan as it was one of those dishes that we often had if we all went out for dinner.

I am pretty sure that you can get this stuff everywhere but I guess it often get overlooked on the menu against more glamorous or safer choices. You also kind of have to like the fatty bits too 🙂

Hot and Sour Soup

Even before I ate that Pork in Brown Sauce it was all looking good as I had started off with my most favourite Chinese Soup and go to broth of choice, a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup.

I think I might have found the best one that I have tracked down in Nottingham as well. It just seemed to have a lot more stuff in there, little bits of shrimp, wood ear mushrooms, slices of tofu, thin slices of char sui pork, sometimes I have had bowls elsewhere with like one bit of meat, but here it was plentiful (in comparison)

It was hot in temperature and hot in spice, just as I like it, it was gloopy and filling and so very very moorish. Honestly if I had not emptied the bowl I would have probably just kept on slurping!

I really liked Temple of Heaven for a number of reasons. The food was really good and it was not at all pretentious, I do like, that westernised stuff but I also like it when the place serves up stuff that is a bit more authentic. I know that they often tweak it a bit but it was all very familiar from eating in China.

I could see a lot of stuff on the laminated menu that brought back memories and made me want to come back

The place was full mostly with young Asians and I am sure that they would not be frequenting the place if it wasn’t serving up the decent stuff.

Temple of Heaven is located at 43 Broad Street in Nottingham. Check them out on Facebook


Afterthoughts: Other Things I wanted

I could see a lot of stuff on the laminated menu that brought back memories and made me want to come back

I was Glad to see a couple of old favorites on the menu

They used to laugh at me when I asked for this dish in Wuhan as it is so sweet and sticky. The truth is that the other food in Hubei was often so spicy I really just needed something in between bites to cool me down a bit! It is like Sweet and Sour Pork at the Takeaway only it is actually nice!

Another dish that we had almost every other day was the crispy spiced pork in chilli sauce. This was often fiery and was best eaten with chopsticks so that you could fish out the bits of pork and avoid the copious spicy hoy dried chillies. I might have to come back just for this dish quite soon 🙂

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