Quite rightly, Harrods is often described as pure melodrama. 4.5 acres of retail
space, seven floors and 330 departments, each offering up its own
kind of lavish loopiness. Rising above the bejewelled occupants of Knightsbridge, as luxury sports cars (try to) zoom along the Brompton Road,I found myself making my way through those infamous green awnings once again to enjoy the fine Chinese cuisine at Chai Wu.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Chai Wu but all thoughts (and #firstworldproblems) are definitely my own…
As you ascend the floors of Harrods, the shopping gets more and more decadent. On the fifth floor in amongst the designer squash rackets and sneakers, a haven of sushi, Wagyu beef and champagne sits just waiting to ensnare flagging shoppers.
Swiftly seated in our own corner of Chai Wu (a pet peeve of mine is when you are seated next to busy tables even though there are other tables nearby that are quieter and empty – there was absolutely none of that here) we perused the menus. Unfortunately it all sounded so tempting my lovely date and I became so involved in conversation that we kept sending our sweet waitress away with apologetic ‘just 2 more minutes, we swear’ promises.
Where do we even begin? Well, it had to be with a flute of Champagne (and a glass of wine for my
“sworn off drinking, but oh go on then, it’s almost your birthday”
companion – she is a blogger in the making I swear) as all good catch-ups do.
Asked of our dietary requirements, my erstwhile dining companion explained that she is a pescatarian (who doesn’t like Crustations – all the more for me!) which was absolutely no problem, and each dish that even had traces of meat in them (such as one of the wasabi paste binders) was pointed out effortlessly.
Adorning our table with dim sum, we tried the vegetarian dumplings, Seabass with gold leaf and lobster dumplings topped with
caviar, scallop foie gras & prawn, after we rearranged the table for photographing, seized our chopsticks with glee. Delicate, full of subtle flavor and beautiful on the plate, they are some of the loveliest dim sum I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.
Our next course (think the Chinese version of a Pasta feast) were the slightly less than traditional Wagyu puffs & vegetarian spring rolls. The Wagyu puffs were simply what sausage rolls aspire to be. Gorgeously tender beef enrobed in puff pastry that would make Mary Berry weep, delicately decorated with edible gold for the ultimate in extravagance and black sesame seeds which provided a beautifully toasted contrast in texture.
Our table groaned at this point, even before our lovely waitress brought out platters of Sweet Potato and avocado tempura maki rolls and (my favourite from our Pan Chai visit in the Harrods Foodhall) rolls of fresh snowcrab, avocado & spicy mayonnaise roll, topped with chopped scallops, orange & black caviar & spring onion. Both succulent mouthfuls of flavour, the platters were also served with a selection of fresh and paste-made wasabi which took the already delicious sushi rolls to a whole new flavour level.
For our mains (we thanked her and waved off the suggestion of duck due to groaning stomachs) we sampled the sweet and sour chicken served in a dragon fruit (not photographed), my date’s loved the grilled tofu with black garlic, wafu dressing and sun blushed cherry plum tomatoes alongside a deliciously garlic glazed serving of Gai Lan (think Chinese Broccoli without the woodiness – it is scrumptious) and egg fried rice.
For the first time since I’ve known my lovely friend, we sat in contented silence. No jokes, no songs (don’t ask), just the soft clink of cutlery on pristine tableware.
Our gorgeous waitress actually wouldn’t let us leave (see why we loved her?) without trying the Chai Wu dessert platter – a sumptuous serving of perfectly delicat green tea chocolate fondant which no less than 3 of my friends have waxed lyrical about (one in particular gets a holy look on his face when you mention it), a matcha cheesecake crowned with berries, 3 scoops of ice cream – vanilla, green tea, pandan and last but not least 3 chocolate truffles.
We had died and gone to patisserie heaven – and I don’t even like green tea.
I loved the contemporary opulence of this hidden diadem. With the interior design inspired by the five elements
in Chinese philosophy; fire, water, wood, earth and metal and combining marbles, timbers and leather it very much feels like a hedonistic hideaway, in one of the most exotic shopping destinations in London.
Chai Wu is certainly a special occasion restaurant, that fits perfectly with the splendour and extravagance Harrods is known for. We loved watching the chefs expertly prepare our meal on the open kitchen surfaces (in between chatting at a hundred miles an hour) and our waitress made the evening so special we didn’t want to leave without properly without specifically saying goodbye to her.
(Now I just need an excuse to use the poshest drop down menu on the internet…)
(Ps. PIN ME!)