What? The epitome of Chinese haute cuisine set in the most extraordinarily flamboyant of worlds, harking back to the 1920’s jazz emporiums of Shanghai.
New? Park Chinois opened early last year after a reported £16m was spent on it. It provides a fantastical slant on Chinese food and has rekindled our love of the dinner and dance of yesteryear.
On the Menu: The food showcases the finest Chinese dishes, elevated through some of the finest ingredients (the price is justified) and influenced through some of the favourite dishes from the travels of Head Chef Lee Che Liang.
First Impressions: From the moment you walk through the velvet red curtain you are transported to a different and mystical era. This is opulence, decadence and indulgence at its absolute finest, showcased in a completely unique world that feels like one of Baz Lurhmann’s more ethereal movie sets. Split on two levels (with the same menu across both), the Salon de Chine on the ground floor offers a more classic dining experience but we were ushered downstairs to Club Chinois “for a night of immersive entertainment”. Before you take to your table, make sure you pop in a little earlier to squeeze in one of their beautifully created cocktails at their dazzling bar shimmering in gold, silver and red. Live jazz and music from two house bands and a plethora of singers provides an enchanting backdrop without overwhelming the dining experience. It’s a magical place and genuinely different from other restaurants of the same genre. I can understand its not to everyone’s taste but that’s the point.
The Look: Like something from another world, every surface seems to glisten. ‘Opulence’ seems an insufficient word to sum it all up and there’s almost too much to take in as you glance around at the rich colour palate and ornate materials – once you settle in to your cloud-like banquette, you’ll find it hard to get up again.
What We Ate: The menu is as extravagant as the surroundings. Let me start by saying the food was genuinely excellent and justifies every pound spent – there is so much to get excited by on such a large menu that it wasn’t hard to find some cracking dishes. The restaurant’s signature Duck de Chine (Peking duck) starts at £85 and the accompanying Beluga caviar, £290 but you are certainly in for a treat. We started with Iberico jasmine tea smoked rack of ribs; delicate, soft and sweet and soft shell crab with coconut and curry leaf, peppered with the subtle heat of dried red pepper chilli. All very generous sharing dishes although it didn’t stop us being too tempted to order some scallop XO dumplings. I am sure there is a word for having dim sum in between starter and main…oh yes, decadent! Our mains consisted of sumptuous red prawn in a delightfully warm coconut, okra, tamarind and kaffir lime leaf sauce and black bean Aberdeen Angus short ribs which must have been slow cooked for days, such were their tenderness. It was a difficult choice in a menu which was adorned with black cod, Wagyu beef and Cantonese roast duck à l’orange with Pierre Moncuit Champagne sauce.
Go With: Someone special – this is an experience we guarantee you won’t forget.
Final Word: A lavishly fun restaurant with sublime food where you can expect to leave entertained and enlightened. Everyone should go at least once.
Park Chinois: 17 Berkeley Street, Mayfair, W1J 8EA, www.parkchinois.com