Chai Wu @ Harrods
Harrods is hailed as the most famous store on the planet. It is a pilgrimage for the rich and famous to indulge in serious retail therapy in this cathedral of opulence and expensive trinkets.
The Harrods Food Hall is the famous landmark of the store with its cornucopia of epicurean delights and artisanal foodstuff. Among them are Mango Tree and Pan Chai; two restaurants serving Pan Asian food in the Food Hall. They have enjoyed great success since their opening in 2011.
Following their success, their owner Eddie Lim has opened a fine dining restaurant called Chai Wu on the 5th floor of Harrods nestled in a peaceful corner of the sports wear department. It is the ideal pit stop for hungry shoppers after an exhausting shopping spree to dine and relax in an elegant restaurant with subdue lighting and tranquil ambience.
Chai Wu is a fine dining restaurant serving the finest Asian cuisine with a contemporary touch…. and without any MSG, the favourite taste enhancer of most Chinese restaurants. Its interior is inspired by the five elements in Chinese philosophy of fire, water, wood, earth and metal using marble, timber and leather to represent the elements with a nod towards Feng Shui.
The open kitchen near the entrance is a showcase for the chefs to perform their culinary wizardry and each dish is plated up like art on a plate. Fresh ingredients of Canadian giant prawns, Scottish lobsters, scallops and monster size Alaskan king crabs and other seafood is displayed in a glass counter to tempt the diners. I was enthralled by the skill and speed of the chef who made sushi rolls with salmon and seaweed effortlessly in nanoseconds.
Chai Wu’s extensive menu features lavish ingredients, often used in grand banquets, taking its patrons on an epicurean journey through the Far East and Southeast Asian regions capturing the essence of popular dishes and elevating them to a gourmet level. Our mini banquet began with hot and sour soup that had just the right consistency and a good balance of the hot and sour tang. This was followed by a seafood medley of dim sum dish of Abalone and Lobster Dumpling in the shape of gold fish covered in specks of gold leaf beautifully crafted like real gold fish caught in the bamboo steamer. This is an upmarket take of the humble prawn dumpling known as har gow in dim sum menu.
Scallops steamed in their shells with garlic and vermicelli bathed in soya sauce infused with flavoured oil and cucumber relish brought out the sweetness of the molluscs. The Chao Zhou Teochew style steamed black cod garnished with thin ribbons of red and green peppers were cooked to perfection and delicate in taste. The pan-fried Chilean sea bass topped with egg white foam served with champagne and honey sauce was scrumptious.
The humongous tiger prawn was surprisingly tender, as huge prawns tend to be a bit chewy. This lightly grilled prawn with a hint of charred smokiness served with a side dish of garlic butter amplifies the freshness and sweetness of the prawns. Cooking seafood to perfection is a delicate art of balancing the texture and flavour without over cooking it and Chai Wu has mastered the technique.
Japan’s choicest wagyu beef was a triumph and worked very well with the red wine and black pepper sauce. However, the red bean and miso marinated baby chicken was a disappointment as the seasoning did not get through to the meat and it was a bit on the dry side. But the Harrods Rolls with snow crabmeat topped with dollops of beluga caviar, creamy avocado fillings and spicy mayonnaise were to die for. For vegetable we had pea shoots sautéed with black truffle.
It would not do a sumptuous meal justice without desserts. We indulged in a Mandarin sorbet to cleanse the palate. The grand finale was a chocolate sphere filled with berries and caramel on a bed of white chocolate disks and a selection of chocolate truffles for a sweet finish. Chai Wu’s menu pays homage to contemporary innovative Asian haute cuisine boldly forging into trendy gastronomic frontiers, when well executed, is a culinary marriage made in heaven.
Our thanks to Chai Wu for their warm hospitality and impeccable service. Chai Wu is located on the 5th floor of Harrods. Click www.chaiwu.co.uk for reservation and opening hours.