Fancy (no really!) chinese restaurant that recently gained a Michelin star – with a sister in Hanway Place, both with décor a bit like something out of a James Bond film. It surprises me to know it is the brainchild of the same guy who brought us Wagamama and Busaba Ethai.
Although at first the menu doesn’t seem like a familiar Chinese offer, on closer inspection it’s a lot of the classics disguised with a clever twist here and there. We could easily have eaten our starters twice, we had the jasmine tea smoked organic pork ribs (definitely the winning starter), the duck spring rolls, and the dim sum to share.
We ordered four mains between us with some rice and it turned out to be far too much food– the sweet and sour Duke of Berkshire pork was delicious – although almost too close to its takeaway counterpart for you to be comfortable with the price tag. The spicy venison stir fry with eryngii mushroom and baby leek, and the tea smoked chicken were both delicious. Last time I went I had the pricier pan-fried Wagyu beef in spicy Szechuan sauce which I still crave sometimes in hungry moments.
Without a doubt, the stars of this show were our desserts – a surprise as Chinese restaurants rarely have anything (edible) on offer for pud. The chocolate orange pot (bitter chocolate mousse, spiced oranges, orange sorbet and salted chocolate cardamom sauce) which was theatrically presented at the table, was the fanciest terry’s chocolate orange anyone has ever encountered and we were all mesmerised. I ordered my favourite Hazelnut Jivara bomb with dark chocolate sauce, which is basically a giant ferrero rocher filled with ice cream – I would go back again just for that.
I had the signature cocktail – The Hakka – which is a delicious combination of vodka, sake, lychee juice, lime coconut and passion fruit – an absolute must if you go here. The wine list is (expectedly) pricey, so this isn’t the place to go if you want to get sloshed.
For somewhere of this standard, the most unexpected thing is the size of the portions, which are the same as you would get in your standard Chinatown establishment – this isn’t dainty fine dining and we were pained at how much food we left given the cost (although on a hungry day I could probably have done more damage!). Sadly they don’t do doggy bags.
It’s quite dark, and while the first time I went during the week on a date, we were able to chat happily, with a bigger group on a larger table on a noisy Saturday night it was a bit more difficult. Both times I’ve been I’ve loved the food but I can imagine some of the options could end up on the wrong side of experimental – and it would be wrong of me not to mention that it is *PRICEY* for a Chinese (when you first open the menu, be prepared for your eye to be drawn to the mains with three figure price tags). That said, it’s the only Michelin star restaurant I’ve been back to, and I find myself day dreaming about certain dishes.
You want a high end, fancy-but-without-tablecloths dinner and you’d rather have a Chinese takeaway than a deconstructed scotch egg any day.
Don’t go there if…
You like your fine dining to come in bite size pieces delicately balanced in the middle of a giant, spotless white square plate. Or you need to have a serious private conversation.
If you’re pretending to have been there don’t forget to mention…
Apparently the black truffle roast duck dish is the dish to beat (we didn’t know this when we went). Also both front of house and the waitresses wear matching uniforms which is a bit freaky.
For more information…