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Zheng Chelsea might look more high-end than the original Zheng in Oxford, but it serves the same excellent Chinese-Malaysian food. On the former Brasserie Gustave site between Fulham Road and King’s Road, it occupies a townhouse conversion with a ground-floor dining room of dark woods, velvet upholstery and hand-printed wallpaper, with a lounge bar in the basement. It is a refined setting for cooking that although prettily presented, isn’t afraid to let rip with the spicing. Seafood was our highlight. Faultless crispy squid with a scattering of finely chopped chilli and spring onion, and deep-fried prawns rolled in oats with curry leaf, both combined a brilliant balance of light batter and squeaky-fresh meat. But we were also impressed by beef rendang in which hot spice and cooling coconut were held in equal check in a rich curry, beef with aubergine, heady with garlic and soy sauce, and skewers of springy chicken satay with the authentically Malaysian touch of raw onion to cut through the peanut sauce. Side orders such as green beans with minced chicken and the shock of lip-numbing Szechuan pepper are just as diverting, and a pud of coconut pancakes was so good we ordered it twice. Wines have been well chosen to match the spice, while service is sweet and welcoming. The restaurant was pretty quiet on our weeknight visit, although we hear weekends are much busier; cooking this good deserves full houses every night.
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