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Chop Chop Haymarket
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Chop Chop
248 Morrison Street,
0131 221 1155
Mon-Fri 12 noon-2pm & 5.30pm-10pm; Sat 12 noon - 2pm & 5pm-10pm; Sun 12.30pm-2.30pm & 5pm-10pm.

We will know very soon whether we have to wait another year to hear the patter of tiny panda paws. Either way I think Chop Chop should send a takeaway to Tian Tian. A portion of their dumplings is the perfect comfort food and far better than bamboo.

Mr Bite and me pondered this when we visited recently. We went to the original Haymarket branch, which is still my favourite (there is a second branch in Leith). The canteen-style decor has improved - ever so slightly - since my last visit, the food remains superlative.

Renowned for its dumplings (4, 8, 16 pieces £4.40 -£9.60) we order pork and prawn, pork and coriander and pork and celery (all boiled) plus beef and chilli (fried). Mr Bite loves the flavour of the minced meat with celery, but the aromatic coriander gets the gold star from me. We are splitting hairs though as all are fiendishly flavoursome, juicy and moreish.

Flavour is king at Chop Chop. Dumplings are dipped in a mix of chilli, garlic, vinegar and soy. Cucumber salad is fresh, sweet and tangy; spinach gets frisky with ginger, aubergines lubricious with garlic and Chinese spices.

Mr B has a hot and sour soup and he describes an explosion of flavour hitting different parts of his mouth. I taste the comforting umami of savoury broth.

Mr B then orders a new dish on the menu, beef stew and when it arrives, although it would feed three easily, I watch him polish it off.  Cleavered chunks of meat and potato swim in a thick aromatic gravy. The dish is perfectly tasty and hearty but I am slightly perplexed by its western character. Hey-ho.

I am saving room for dessert, sugar string apple (£7.50 feeds two) i.e. chunks of fruit in a toffee coating which you dip in iced water to crisp up; delicious with vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Chop Chop was bustling with custom for both tables and takeaways when we visited and the reason is clear; Edinburgh punters know what they like and it is tasty, fresh, authentic Chinese food. I bet Tian Tian would love it. (S. Wilson)

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