The Great Wall

There is a reason London is considered one of the greatest gastronomical cities in the world today.

Aromatic Peking Duck with Cucumber, Spring Onions, Pancakes & Hoisin Sauce

Over the past few decades, immigrants from all over the world had infiltrated UK and brought their cuisines along with their exotic ingredients. Want to have some Vietnamese food? It’s there. Ethopian? Yes. Peruvian? Of course!

Londoners are spoilt for choice. Competition is fierce and bad restaurants die a swift death. In contrast unique ones win the adoration of food bloggers who can create quite the social media buzz.

However, the further away you move out of London, with the exception of other big cities, the scene gets rather depressing. There are the usual plethora of pubs to choose from and each town has its share of Indian, Chinese, Italian and maybe Turkish eateries.

After having a few bad meals I gave up eating out locally altogether but recently changed my mind. Good eateries in Essex, such as The Magic Mushroom, are few and far between but I’m intent on finding them. Let’s start with my local Chinese restaurant…

Aromatic Duck Pancakes

At 12pm on a Sunday afternoon we walked in The Great Wall. The place was completely empty and the waiter handed us the special Sunday to Thursday menu. Three courses for £8.50 which comprises a starter, main course, egg fried rice and stir-fried vegetables which didn’t look bad on paper but left a feeling of suspicion. We opted for the main menu instead.

After having visited this establishment a few times I can safely advise to avoid the starters, except the Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup. Most items travel from the freezer straight into the deep fryer, coming out as shrivelled, greasy things that don’t belong on a plate. The spring rolls heave with oil and sadly is mostly filled with cabbage.

A quarter of the Aromatic Duck came at a hefty price of £9.20. It had a crispy skin but the meat was dried out. Annoyingly our pancakes all stuck together in one big lump and it was an art not to literally tear them apart.

Relatively speaking, main courses are The Great Wall’s strong point. Sweet & Sour Chicken (£6.20) are covered in a thin batter, dubbed Hong-Kong style, and the sauce pleasing. A classic dish loved by the western world.

The Shanghai Filet Steak & Cashews (£8.50) came with a great, attractive dark, spicy sauce but a third of the meat was unforgivably chewy.

Shanghai Fillet Steak with Cashew Nuts

Sweet & Sour Hong Kong Style Chicken

There is something exciting about the sizzling plates where a variety of meats and sauces are on offer. Dodge the Orange & Cointreau Sauce though, which tastes mostly of orange squash. A firm favourite is the Sizzling Duck with Kung Po Sauce (£9.10).

Sizzling Duck with King Po Sauce

Sizzling Duck with King Po Sauce

Sizzling Duck with King Po Sauce

Lastly, the Pork Chow Mein is a steal for just £4.50 and contained a lot of meat. The noodles were soft but not oilyand is definitely one of the better offerings of Pork Chow Mein out there.

Pork Chow Mein

With not much competition and country folk not being very fussy, this expression comes to mind: “In the land of the blind the one-eyed man (The Great Wall) is king”. It can do better.

Quick Overview
Food

4/10: Four out of the twelve dishes we have tried were good.

Value

6/10: The duck pancakes are one the pricy side. Other dishes were of good size. The sizzling platters you pay for the show, because plain Kung Po Duck costs £3 less on the menu.

Service

5/10: Friendly enough but even though restaurant wasn’t busy we waited quite long to have plates removed and no initiative was shown in the drinks department and we had to ask for our drinks. Gratuity was automatically added to the bill, a pet peeve of mine, even though we were just a table of two.

Toilets

3/10: As I walked in my shoes stuck to the floor. Very utilitarian and door lock was not in working order, which rendered the toilet unusable.

Ambience

4/10: Quite cramped. The music selection was an odd mix of 80-90’s music, including Bloodhound Gang and Spice Girls, which was all a bit surreal.

Recommend

5/10: You’re safe ordering Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup and Sweet & Sour Chicken. Order anything else at your own risk.

The Great Wall
6 East Street
Rochford
Essex
SS4 1DB

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh how I miss visiting restaurants in London etc, food here in Spain is not so good as people think, At least not andalusiia anyways, the photos look good though!

    You are welcome to join in my food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here all bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon. Aprils theme is chinese soup.

  2. says

    Love the dramatic photos! I find the majority of Chinese restaurants are so-so with the occasional gem.

    Sadly, frequently in otherwise good Chinese restaurants the loos could do with more attention.

    We had an amusing experience in one in Walthamstow recently which appears to be a great takeaway (with constantly ringing sodding phone) so food was actually great but the place had zero atmosphere (we were only dining in customers). Their toilets were so TINY that I had my knees pressed against the door of the cubicle. You opened the door to the loo and the opposite wall was half the distance from you you’d normally expect it to be. Now you know I’m not very tall so god knows what a six foot bloke in need of a number two would do (the men’s cubicle next door was identical). The highlights of the whole experience were the superb barbecue ribs and hearing a Chinese cover version of “I’m all out of love” by Air Supply!

    I’ve never got to like anywhere particular in China Town, places often seem to lack a double door between outside and the restaurant meaning you freeze to death in winter. Wong Kei has a certain appeal if you’re taking someone else who has never been before but I’d not eat there otherwise.

    My favourite Chinese places are (in no particular order):
    1. Stick & Bowl on Kensington High St
    2. Loon Yee in Snaresbrook.
    3. One with red frontage near my old office in Red Lion Street, never knew the name of it. It was an office tradition to have lunch there when someone was leaving!

    Great to hear you’re getting out to eat by yourselves even if it’s in the day!

  3. says

    Love that the pictures look so high-tone when the place evidently wasn’t! The pork noodles do look good though… Astonishingly we have a really good Chinese right by our station – Yi Ban – the only good restaurant for miles around. it’s always utterly packed with Chinese families at weekends when they do dim sum and is ridiculously well-priced too.

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