WHEN searching for genuine northern Chinese cuisine, Lewisham isn’t normally the first place that springs to mind.

On entering Taste Inn, tables of Chinese customers busied themselves barbequing meat on an in-built table burner while a Chinese soap opera flickered on a TV.

The menu has the usual fast-food dishes seen in most Chinese takeaways.

These were quickly ignored in favour of the more interesting and unfamiliar dishes, which are not for the squeamish.

Delights such as blood curd, pig bowel, ox tripe, ham and veg with dried chilli and Chinese five spice set the tone.

To start, a cold dish of bean curd and preserved duck egg (£5.50) was comprised of silky tofu topped with shards of dark-brown egg.

The creaminess of the egg was offset by the soy and vinegar sauce, and the crunch of raw spring onion added a pleasing contrast.

Lamb with cumin (£7) was an aromatic concoction of slightly chewy lamb slices and onions fried with cumin seeds, while stir fried beef with fresh chilli (£7) was a spicy heap of tender beef, cooked with wood ear mushrooms, carrots and chunks of fiery red and green chillies.

Both were moreish and satisfying when accompanied by fluffy white rice (£1.50).

This treasure of Lewisham is not to be missed.

How the Taste Inn rated:
FOOD **** (authentic, good value cuisine)
SERVICE **** (friendly and prompt)
INTERIOR/DÉCOR **** (smart and clean)

Address: Taste Inn, 80 Lee High Road, Lewisham, London SE13 5PT