By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Designed in accordance with the five elements of Chinese philosophy, (wood, metal, water, earth and fire) Chai Wu is the latest restaurant to have opened within Harrods. Opening as the sister restaurant to Pan Chai and Mango Tree, based in Harrods’ Food Halls, as well as Mango Tree in Belgravia. However, as expected by the name Chai Wu offers an exhilarating fusion of traditional and contemporary Chinese cuisine, displayed through the menu designed by Chef Jason See Ming Hwa. Boasting dark marble interiors, an open charcoal grill and Sashimi bar located in the dining area, the 90-cover restaurant offers the type of atmosphere where you’d expect to find some of the Globe’s most notorious celebrities. Instead the general clientele seems to be made up of wealthy Jay Z-alikes. The type that sport mirrored sunglasses to dinner, paired with colossal jewel-encrusted watches, supping Champagne that’s probably older than the building itself and more expensive than Scorpion venom, by the millilitre.
Upon ascending to the iconic department store’s fifth floor and traipsing through “Shoe Heaven”, we soon found ourselves dining from a selection of the extraordinary delights on offer at the restaurant. With a menu so vast we became unable to make our own decisions, thus allowing the proficient waitress to select on our behalf. Beginning with an incredible Dim-Sum platter (£32), filled with five steamed dumplings, packed with some of the World’s most exorbitant ingredients. Of the five, the Chilean Seabass and Lobster with Caviar were the most palatable; with plenty more lavish ingredients soon to follow. Wagyu Beef puffs (£18) topped with unnecessary gold leaf were reasonable, as were the Wagyu skewers (£29), albeit slightly over-priced. Yet it was our most inexpensive of appetisers – the Harrods special – that was particularly sensational. Delivered to the table upon a slate (much to my own personal dismay), containing a generous portion of eight spicy Crab and Avocado inside-out rolls, topped with Scallop Tiradito and a generous helping of Caviar, which would most probably have exceeded the £22 price tag in the downstairs food hall, alone.
Meanwhile, the restaurant’s signature main – Beijing Duck – arrived at the table accompanied by a surprisingly unpretentious chef, armed with a fierce cleaver to carve the bird right before our eyes. Served up in two stages, first there’s the rich, crispy skin and outer flesh that’s served with pancakes and Mantou buns. Not forgetting a vast accompaniment of sauces, traditional Hoi Sin, Schezuan Pepper, light Plum sauce and grated Garlic coated in expensive White Truffle Oil, yet the heat of the raw Garlic did manage to, disappointingly, overpower the delicate earthy tones of White Truffle. Following the Duck and Pancake feast came the choice of either Duck Fried Rice or Minced Duck in a Lettuce leaf wrap, in order to make use of the remaining meat. We opted for the Lettuce wrap, also featuring a sweet Chinese BBQ sauce, but the chance to enjoy the remnants shredded with a few more of the delicious Mantou buns (which are allegedly completely exclusive to Chai Wu) would’ve been favourable, especially considering the £42 fee (£68 for the whole duck).
With just four desserts on offer, our inner gluttons found great joy in sharing between a Chocolate dome (£9) filled with Vanilla Ice Cream and refreshing Kiwi, as well as a reasonably priced Green Tea Fondant (£8), the latter of which provided the perfect finale to our delightful lunch within Harrods’ latest eatery. Will I be rushing back to dine at Chai Wu again? Of course, as long as I end up winning the Lottery in the not too distant future.