Tim Hughes reviews a classic Chinese takeaway in Jericho

There is something reassuringly old-fashioned about this classic Chinese takeaway in the heart of trendy Jericho.

Its garish yellow sign with obligatory Cantonese characters hints at Kowloon’s traditional character – as does its minimal interior. There is no fuss nor frills, nothing hip, showy or pretentious. The kitchen action is hidden out the back, with just a lucky cat ornament, a Year of the Horse calendar and a TV to hold one’s attention.

It all feels very 1970s, but there’s nothing wrong with that because this place is clearly all about one thing: food.

Greeted with a big smile from a friendly and polite young woman at the wood-pannelled counter, I proceeded to keep her waiting for a good five minutes while I pored over the menu, which offers more than 200 items – or, at least, permutations. It being a cold night I went for hot and spicy – and they don’t come much hotter in Chinese food than Szechuan beef (£4.80). This I ordered with egg fried rice (£1.70) and a crab meat and sweetcorn soup (£2). I was delighted to be told it would take about 10 minutes – happy to wait in the knowledge that it is freshly prepared freshly from scratch. And, besides, I had the TV to keep me company. It being a proper old-school takeaway there is no option to eat in, so I tucked in at home 20 minutes later. It was still hot – particularly the steaming soup, which was lovely and creamy, light and refreshing.

Easy to do badly but hard to do well, Szechuan beef is the test of a chef’s culinary skills, and Kowloon’s was quite delicious.

Tender and lean pieces of sliced beef were cooked quickly with onion, garlic, ginger, crunchy strips of red and green pepper and served in a warm, piquant sauce which was more like a gravy. The portion was large, packed with meat, and could have fed two. Warm and comforting, it was still light and fresh. 

The fried rice was also good – with more evidence of egg than most, though you’ll need a good drink afterwards! I went for a half-decent Shiraz rather than the Fanta on offer behind the counter, and also needed a bit of a nap (MSG anyone?) – but as a meal for one it was great value. Takeaway heaven in a tin foil tray.