Feng Shui Friendly Chi Kitchen In Debenhams

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Spring Roll with Aromatic Duck

Spring Roll with Aromatic Duck

 

The chi of good food has awoken in Oxford Street in London bringing a new concept of in-store dining while shopping. After a hectic session of retail therapy, what better place to recharge one’s battery than a pit stop in a diner imbued with restful chi in a Feng Shui friendly atmosphere at Chi Kitchen in Debenhams.

 

The striking interiors of Chi Kitchen. It uses the Chinese word for “Fire” with restful shades of blue.

The striking interiors of Chi Kitchen. It uses the Chinese word for “Fire” with restful shades of blue. (Image courtesy of Chi Kitchen)

 

This popular departmental store in UK has a proud British heritage harking back to 1813 when William Debenhams invested in the store.  It is a leading international retailer with 240 stores across 27 countries trading on its home brand as well as international labels along with concessions retailing in fashion, household goods, home furnishings and accessories and everything a home would need. Its in-store café underwent a major transformation with a touch of eastern flavour. Whilst bustling Oxford Street, the epicentre of shopping in London goes into frenetic energy overdrive, Chi Kitchen offers a relaxing respite in a calm corner of the store.

 

 Chi Kitchen – Asia On A Plate

Chi Kitchen is the brainchild of Eddie Lim, a very successful UK-based Malaysian restaurateur who owns a group of restaurants including the elegant fine-dining Thai restaurant, Mango Tree in Belgravia as well as three food outlets in Harrods, which includes Chai Wu, Mango Tree Deli and Pan Chai Deli. He also has a share in Singapore Garden, one of my favourite restaurants in London with consistently great authentic Singaporean/Malaysian food. He co-owns Chi Kitchen with his partner Stan Myerson.  An accountant by profession, Eddie’s interest in the restaurant business stems from years of experience doing accounts for many restaurants in London and learning the tricks of the trade in the process.

 

Joyce and Eddie Lim. Chi Kitchen is the brain child of Eddie Lim.

Joyce and Eddie Lim. (Image Courtesy of Chi Kitchen).

 

Commenting on his latest project, he said, “We are absolutely delighted to be collaborating with Debenhams on this exciting new project, Chi Kitchen. Our aim is to build a brand exclusively to Debenhams, which is going to offer not only good Pan Asian food but also good energy to Debenhams’ loyal and new customers. The food will be exotic, colourful and incredibly tasty.” Chi Kitchen takes inspiration from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese cuisine embellished with a contemporary and innovative twist presented in style and panache.

 

The Chi Kitchen Menu

The proof of the pudding is in the eating so we tried a selection of choice dishes including Popcorn shrimp with delicious crunchy batter; aromatic duck spring rolls; California crab rolls; tuna sashimi; Nonya chicken curry served with thin slices of roti and a steaming bowl of Vietnamese beef pho with tender pieces of beef garnished with fresh vegetable and mint in a light tasty broth. I had some pho when I was in Vietnam with pretty chewy beef and bland soup but the pho here tasted of quality stock and choice cut of beef. We finished off the meal with matcha green tea pannacotta with a hint of pandan and a chocolate and lemon grass mousse. Both desserts are sweet sensation to complete our satisfactory Asian culinary experience.

 

Popcorn shrimp with a crunchy batter served in Chi Kitchen at Debenhams.

Popcorn shrimp with a crunchy batter.

 

California crab rolls served in Chi Kitchen at Debenhams.

California crab rolls.

 

On our second visit (yes, a good restaurant is worth a return visit), we had a most scrumptious smoked chicken and squid coated in light crunchy tempura style batter with a touch of spice served with mayonnaise drizzled with truffle oil. Yummylicious! Our server persuaded us to try their new dessert of baked tapioca coconut pudding and it was another winner.

 

Chocolate and lemon grass mousse served in Chi Kitchen at Debenhams.

Chocolate and lemon grass mousse

 

The bar serves champagne, wine, alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails and also on offer are specialised drinks such as Malaysia’s favourite teh tarek, a frothy tea sweetened with condensed milk prepared by pouring from one cup to another at a height to obtain the frothy effect; and milk bubble tea, a Taiwanese tea-based drink with chewy tapioca flour pearls.

 

Matcha green tea pannacotta with a hint of pandan served in Chi Kitchne at Debenhams.

Matcha green tea pannacotta with a hint of pandan.

 

 

Grill To Thrill

Chi Kitchen takes pride in its selection of Robata grilled beef kushiyaki, chicken yakitori, sirloin steak with Korean Bulgogi sauce, chicken satay and chicken wings marinated in Asian BBQ sauce. Robata or “fireside cooking” in Japanese originated from the cooking style of fishermen in Hokkaido in northern Japan where they used to grill food in their boats round a hearth that double up as a heater in the cold weather. The state of the art Robata grill enhances the flavour of the meat and in Chi Kitchen guests can observe the chefs in action in the open plan kitchen cooking on the grill and doing food preparation. For the early shoppers, there is breakfast to suit all taste from western and full English, Vietnamese sausage bun, Japanese pancakes, Korean omelette, chicken congee to Malaysian comfort food of roti served with condensed milk and kaya (coconut jam) toast.  Worth getting up just to munch some kaya toasts!

 

 

A Malaysian favourite served in Chi Kitchen at Debenhams- teh tarek

A Malaysian favourite – teh tarek

 

 

Another Malaysia Favourite served in Chi Kitchne at Debenhams - Nonya chicken curry served with thin slices of roti

Another Malaysia Favourite – Nonya chicken curry served with thin slices of roti

 

  Awakening The Chi using Feng Shui

Eddie is a firm believer in Feng Shui and he never opens a restaurant without consulting his two trusted Feng Shui masters – an elderly consultant in Singapore whom he has been using since 1981 and a young monk in Thailand. They pay special attention to the design, colour scheme, energy flow and position of the cash till which is of paramount importance in a business making sure there is no “poison arrow” or bad chi from toilets above or below the floor over the till. Date selection for an auspicious day to start the business is another important factor. Eddie explains the concept, “Chi Kitchen has chosen the Chinese character for fire and it symbolises energy which is called chi in Chinese.

 

Another view of the interiors of Chi Kitchen showing the balance of the 5 elements – fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

Another view of the interiors showing the balance of the 5 elements – fire, earth, metal, water and wood. (Image courtesy of Chi Kitchen).

 

We incorporate the five elements of fire, earth, metal, water and wood in the décor to balance the chi with soothing colour scheme using marble, timber and leather to create an elegant, relaxing and welcoming setting with a capacity for 68 guests. We provide user-friendly facilities with free Wi-Fi, phone charger ports and high chairs for toddlers”.  The restaurant is auspiciously situated in the northwest corner of the store, the sector of patriarch or mentor luck ruled by the metal element symbolising money luck. The metal element in Feng Shui symbolises “gold”, which translates to money.  Eddie’s philosophy for a successful restaurant is “great food and ambience with good service” and he has ticked all the boxes.

 

Chi Kitchen is on the Ground Floor of Debenhams at 334-348 Oxford St, London W1C 1JG  Facebook Chi Kitchen Debenhams  Twitter @Chikitchenfood   Opens daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also has a branch in Debenhams in Birmingham, which seats 168 customers. www.chikitchen.co.uk

 

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