Everyone has their favourite type of cuisine, my top choices will always be Japanese or Italian and for Mr S its Spanish or Chinese food. I think the former will always remind him of family holidays in Mallorca whereas the latter brings back memories of Chinese takeaways at home with his friends. So you can imagine the glee on his ever-smiley face when I told him that we’d be having lunch at Chai Wu, the fine dining Chinese restaurant in Harrods – did I mention that he loves shopping too?
Chai Wu is actually located in Harrods Sportswear department, now I know what you’re thinking, it doesn’t necessarily scream fine dining but once you’re inside the concession you can no longer tell that you’re in a department store.
There’s an open kitchen with all the delicious seafood on display and a chic interior inspired by the five elements of Chinese philosophy: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
It’s really super glam and you’d never know that just outside you just purchase trainers, leggings and bosu balls.
Several of the cocktails on the list are Asian-inspired and Mr S dove straight in with a lychilli martini containing Belvedere vodka, lychee liqueur, fresh lemongrass red chilli, lychee fruit, fresh lime juice, lychee juice and sugar syrup. It sounded a bit overly sweet to me but Mr S confirmed that it wasn’t too saccharine or too spicy but actually perfectly balanced. Though a chocolate mint martini sounded deliciously tempting, after my recent wine-fuelled trips I was abstaining from alcohol this weekend and just stuck to water.
When we go for Chinese food there’s a few things that Mr S literally cannot go without. One of which is a sweetcorn soup and at Chai Wu that classic is combined with Alaskan king crab and served in this gorgeous bowl with a Buddha perched on top.
He did allow me a little taste of his favourite and it had that perfect slightly thick consistency that I alway look for and was full of juicy chunks of crab. I think you can tell by the grin that Mr S was already anticipating a good meal!
Next to arrive was our dim sum platter looking like a jewellery box full of diamonds and pearls. At Chai Wu, the dishes are really full of fine and luxurious ingredients and every one of these little trinkets was packed full of them. Of course, the juicy lobster dumpling topped with caviar was claimed by me straight away which I soon followed up with the sea bass dim sum with it’s pretty topping of gold leaf. Mr S claimed the truffled prawn and we also enjoyed the scallop and vegetarian dumpling on the platter.
Having tried dim sum in Hong Kong, I can certainly say that they lived up to the authentic feasts that we’ve had in South Eastern China and the fine dim sum restaurants in London.
Our platter of sashimi, dramatically steaming with dry ice, was soon placed on our table and I was immediately impressed with the pretty presentation. A generous portion of some of the finest fresh fish available included salmon, scallops, toro, yellow tail and unagi (eel) on ice. I prefer sashimi cut slightly finer but this didn’t stop my enjoyment of the dish especially the luscious toro and the deliciously buttery yellowtail.
As we’re raw fish lovers we chose the Chai Wu special for our sushi rolls; delicious spicy tuna, spring onion mixed with decadent tuna belly and the perfect level of rice to fish ratio. As I’m not a lover of mayonnaise, I was pleased to see it drizzled on the place rather than competing with the flavours of the tuna in the roll. If raw fish isn’t your thing there are lots of other options for the sushi such as crispy prawn, soft shell crab and snow crab.
I selected a king prawn with garlic sauce from the charcoal grill as a hot main course and this was my only real disappointment of the day. The flesh was too chewy and it was lacking in any flavour without the sauce…Mr S did eat it all though.
Along with the sweetcorn soup, traditional Beijing duck with pancakes is Mr S’s other absolute must-have at a Chinese restaurant. The glossy half duck was carved expertly at the table and then beautifully presented on a platter.
I’ve had shredded crispy duck in standard Chinese restaurants in the UK but in the higher end restaurants such as HKK, Hutong and three Michelin-starred Lung King Heen in Hong Kong I’ve found this sort of preparation to be more usual. The skin is perfectly crisped and there’s a juicy layer of fat below and the succulent duck meat is bursting with flavour.
As you can imagine Mr S was in seventh heaven with this amazing quality of bird and it came with not only the pancakes, cucumber and hoi sin sauce but also these soft Mantou buns to make your own duck sandwich…
…crammed with all the accompaniments.
I’ve also never seen so many sauce options presented alongside a Beijing duck.
There are two options of how to eat the left over duck, either minced in lettuce cups or as fried rice. We chose the second option but by now were already far too full to make to much of a dent in the heavy carb option.
Our token side of greens were gai lan in oyster sauce, a type of Chinese broccoli which I’ve never had before. I really enjoyed this dish as the vegetable had just about the right amount of bite and the perfect drizzle of dressing.
Despite aforementioned fullness, for the good of the blog we decided to order the full dessert platter which was almost too wide to fit in the frame of my photo.
With vanilla, pistachio, green tea and pandan ice cream, chocolate truffles, and the famous green tea chocolate fondant we were spoilt for choice. But the platter also includes a dessert of the day and today it was a perfectly light and fluffy chocolate mousse on a base of sponge.
But I don’t think anything could outdo that signature fondant just oozing with chocolate sauce. It takes real skill to make the perfect fondant and it’s something that has clearly been highly honed at Chai Wu.
Given the location, I had my doubts about Chai Wu but the food really surpassed my expectations. Admittedly it is expensive but if you’re shopping and looking for a more fining experience in Harrods or simply want a high quality platter of sushi and dim sum for a ladies lunch, I’d definitely recommend Chai Wu.
PIN FOR LATER:
87 – 35 Brompton Road
Our meal was complimentary.