My family are hard work. Don't get me wrong, I love muh crazy Asian fam and wouldn't swap them for any other brood in the
platter (lobster tempura, avocado, asparagus, spicy mayonnaise topped with orange and black caviar, unagi sauce) and the BANZAISNOW CRAB SALAD (shredded snow crab with avocado, caviar and seaweed salad).
£188, SERVES 2 PEOPLE
Selection of 6 pieces sashimi (salmon, fatty tuna, yellow tail)
Selection of 6 pieces nigiri (tuna, salmon, yellow tail)
Whole grilled live Canadian lobster with Korean spicy sauce or
Japanese teriyaki sauce topped with gold leaf
Alaskan King Crab leg with spicy chilli sauce
Skewered yaki scallops with sweetened soy sauce
A bowl of edamame, delicately steamed and salted, served as a palate cleanser for the CHRISTMAS PLATTER; a cornucopia of delights whose stand-out attractions were the whole GRILLED CANADIAN LOBSTER with Japanese teriyaki sauce topped with gold leaf and the ALASKAN KING CRAB LEG with spicy chilli sauce. As decadent as the crustacean dishes were - as excessive as lobster brushed with gold may seem, in our gilded surroundings of Harrods Food Hall it made perfect sense - the rest of the Christmas Platter was no less rewarding. The SASHIMI selection of SALMON, FATTY TUNA, and YELLOW TAIL was predictably fresh, and YAKI SCALLOPS SKEWERED WITH ASPARAGUS, while deceptively informal-looking, enjoyed the same precision of its more elaborate companions.
The CHRISTMAS PLATTER is brilliant in its seemingly simple presentation; one begins from the bottom left and eats anti-clockwise - beginning with delicate sashimi then progressing to more complex, intense flavours before ending with rich lobster. Although it was the penultimate dish that made the greatest impression on me; the spicy chilli sauce, so perfectly imbued into the Alaskan King Crab legs reminded me of the similar flavour palate of my maternal grandmother's top secret chilli crab sauce.
All in all; the Christmas Platter is a stunning seasonal addition to Pan Chai's already excellent menu, sure to impress even the most time-starved of shoppers-diners into slowing down. Catch it while you can at Harrods.
|*I was invited to review Pan Chai and the meal was complimentary.|
I'm surprisingly sanguine about the prospect of spending Christmas on my ownsome. Christmas is about food, family, and fighting. The latter two, I'll get my fix of the week before Christmas when my family make their way to me in London (which I'll no doubt milk by nudging them towards the Prada concession in Harrods *cough* consolation present *cough*) and the former, I can get my fix of with Chai Wu's Christmas Menu - seasonal dishes with a delightful Chinese twist. So Santa, put me on your naughty list for all I care - I see your minced pies and raise you the Chai Wu scallops and foie gras in red wine sauce.
You know from my previous review of Chai Wu that this glossy Pan-Asian restaurant serves up luxurious Chinese and Japanese favourites with a literal Midas touch (gold leaf-flaked dim sum, anyone?) so I was as curious as anyone to see their tribute to the festive season. It seems that as far as flavours go, the references are subtle - such as the deliciously dense black pepper turkey roll, while the focus is rather on that hearty, homey feeling of Christmas dinner. Hence a creamy starter of avocado lobster soup topped with fish roe in a delicate glass bowl, hinting at the refinement to follow. The scallops and foie gras in red wine sauce brought glamour and decadence. The star dish was the Chilean sea bass, the skin perfectly pan-fried with the most moreish yellow bean sauce begging to be mopped up with the accompanying rice. Even humbler dishes, like the baby pak choi and egg fried rice were elevated with rich ingredients; the former with silky shiitake mushrooms in oyster sauce and the latter with bits of scallop.
Desserts at Chai Wu are always a gorgeous and elaborate affair. The Christmas special is no different - the dark chocolate orange fondant mercifully had none of that cloying chocolate orange sickliness (its popularity amongst the Brits will forever remain, to me, a great mystery) but rather a thick, rich, warm sauce that oozed with all the sensuality of a good pudding.
I made two curious observations; one: that the meal began on a distinctively Western note, and two: that despite the rather traditional Chinese home-cooking style of the other dishes, the Christmas menu evoked just the right amount of homeliness with none of the 'dated' feeling. For yours truly, that rare Overseas Chinese expatriate who eschews simple Chinese home-cooking for more time consuming-to prepare dishes such as duck pancakes, it's a compliment to Chai Wu for finding the right balance between comfort food and contemporary cuisine.
I invited Honey to join me at Chai Wu for a long overdue catchup. A seven-dish Christmas menu turned into a nearly-four hour long meal; partly because the dishes were so delicious that they begged our full attention, partly because we had so much to say in between courses, and partly thanks to the libations. As per my suggestions Honey had the signature champagne cocktail - Chai Wu Fizz - while I whet my palate with a sake cocktail I believe to be called the Gold Miyagi. And then there was the tea. So much tea - and I'm not only talking about the herbal variety but also about the jaw-dropping, scandalous variety. After what seemed like an endless and delicious wave of 'Oh my God!'s and 'They did NOT!'s the drama was punctuated with perfect comedic timing when the ever-attentive staff asked, 'Ladies, would you like some tea?' WOULD WE! The Jasmine Blossoming (how appropriate) flowering tea was a wonderful refreshing note to the end of a decadent meal and equally juicy conversation.
The Chai Wu Christmas Menu is Chinese comfort-food with the restaurant's signature luxury -
a mix of traditional and Western dishes with seasonal references.
Just the thing then, for homesick me in London, pining for the feel-good factor of Christmas.
The Chai Wu Christmas Menu is available till the end of December, and is £88 per person.
"Welcome, esteemed guests from five lands and four seas, to gather as friends for various delicacies"
Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London
However, a concept that is not alien to this Overseas Chinese Malaysian-now British expat is the comfort of authentic Chinese cooking in a foreign land. A surefire indication of such a establishment is, as is the case with Min Jiang on Kensington High Street, is a chorus of various Chinese accents: I heard the baritones of husky Mainland accents, the clear altos of the Taiwanese; the curious, sometimes soprano-like drawls of the Malaysian Chinese, with Cantonese cadenzas peppering the symphony.
That overture raised the brocade curtain on a gorgeous meal for four at 'London's most authentic Chinese restaurant'.
A BLOCKBUSTER DATE NIGHT IN MAYFAIR THAT STARTED AT
Call me the Alexander Petrovsky of date night. And before any of you shake your fists at me with cries of Team Aidan! or Team Big! (Team Berger? No? Darn right, he was a real wet towel), hear this Sex And The City-binge-watching-sister out. So maybe I'm neither composing 'Ick!'-inducing love songs on my grand piano* nor waltzing in couture** at the local Maccy D's, but if you want me to show you a good time you gotta get your art on (and get to grips with chopsticks - you'll see why in a bit). And as far as London art exhibitions go, it doesn't get bigger than the annual Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Every year, this world-class institution of art hosts its legendary open-submission summer show, with an eye-watering exhibit of over a thousand works within the Palladian-mansion walls of Burlington House. Because either you go big or you go home. Jack Berger, I'm talking to you...#RASUMMER
*but I did compose a painting for my intended...
**although I was wearing Valentino, does that count?
A MARYLEBONE MEMBERS CLUB WITH A MENU UNDER £20
The Cavendish at 35 New Cavendish Street, Fitzrovia
Despite the average champagne socialist's assertions that the antiquated class system (caste system?) is still very much the oppressor of those who dare to dream, the truth is that we live in a world where social mobility is the wind beneath the wings of the bold and the busty (have you forgotten that display at Grand National? Yes, I'm also trying to). Luxury has become increasingly democratic, as exemplified by head chef Douglas Santi's new 'everything £20 or under' menu, launched yesterday at refined Fitzrovia establishment 35 New Cavendish Street.
FROM SOHO TO SHOREDITCH: WHY THIS LONDON LITERARY SALON IS MY FAVOURITE READING ROOM
"If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t f**k them. Don’t sleep with people who don’t read!" Sage dating advice by John Waters for sapiosexuals seeking similar savants. Smart is sexy, end of. So it comes as no surprise that like an moth to a flame (because so many of history's greatest intellectuals are self-destructive like that...) I've gravitated toward the new Shoreditch branch of Soho literary circle The Society Club on Cheshire Street.
WITH MY INGLOURIOUS BAAAAAH-STERDS AT CLUEQUEST: REVENGE OF THE SHEEP
It's official - should the end be nigh, it's neither the Rick Grimes nor the Batmans (Batmen?) of the world who will swoop in to save your sorry souls. The real heroes, my friends, are the curious breed of hardcore social-media addicts you call bloggers - not just because our savvy for all things tech and trending will come in handy for breaking codes, although you can be damn sure that any live updates on the apocalypse will be extensively shared on Snapchat - but because, as Professor Blacksheep will attest when we foiled his dastardly plans with 12 minutes to spare, bloggers do it better. Can I get a 'Squad, squad'?
When elements combine & form a contemporary yet classic culinary experience
WHAT: A FIRST CLASS TICKET TO CHINESE & PAN-ASIAN CUISINE
WHERE: CHAI WU, HARRODS FIFTH FLOOR, KNIGHTSBRIDGE
I have a theory about the Overseas Chinese: that when it comes to gastronomical pilgrimage, our motherland either exists in a Bermuda Triangle or possesses the ability to bend light in to a cloak. Why else would otherwise perfectly sane Malaysians (including yours truly & family), Singaporeans, Australians etc. in search of the Chinese food of their dreams and heritage completely bypass China, instead seeking outposts far in the land of the white man?! From the accents that staccato the air outside Four Seasons in Bayswater you'd think that you can't get roast duck anywhere else in the world, honestly. Take it from this Malaysian Chinese who by the age of 12 had dined in no less than 21 Chinatowns across 3 different continents: the children of the Orient can't resist our food calling to us from foreign places. Have Chinese food, will travel - now that's an Asian Persuasion.
TWO LUXURY LOVERS, ONE ALDYWCH
Oh, the Strand - that stretch of London spanning Trafalgar Square to the City limits, where every horror story you've ever heard about London traffic (both the four-wheeled and two-legged variety) crawls past some of the city's most iconic landmarks: whether it's the tired and touristy (London Eye) or the underrated yet quintessentially London (basically every pre-war building with a view of the river). At least the view makes for an interesting distration from the ever-climbing taxi meter, yes? Steadfastly self-employed as I am (read: works from bed, attends Skype meetings wearing crispy linen blouse + sweatpants) you'd have to move heaven and earth to get me to venture out of my pocket of East London and into Covent Garden. F/29/Shore-bitch. Will haul arse for: the opera (or Lion King, depends on how long we've been friends), London Fashion Week, and of course the promise of cracking company (I mean, her surname is Lux. Spirits don't come more kindred than that.) + beautiful beverages + good nosh. Because the best things in life are free. I see your contempt for bloggers and raise you my complimentary cocktail.
April 19, 2016
TWO LUXURY LOVERS, ONE ALDYWCH Oh, the Strand - that stretch of London spanning Trafalgar Square to the City limits, where ev...