Housed within one of Chelsea’s favourite luxury department stores, this contemporary Chinese restaurant opened at the beginning of 2015 and established itself on the fifth floor of Harrods. Going from strength to strength this summer, Chai Wu has now launched a new Ladies Lunch menu which has been hot on the lips of my clients and friends alike, so I thought it time to do a little shopping and have a Ladies Lunch of my own!
For those of you not yet familiar with Chai Wu, the restaurant concept and interior design are inspired by the five elements in Chinese philosophy: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Harrison, the restaurant’s design firm, has integrated a blend of traditional and contemporary Chinese culture. Incorporating natural elements throughout the space, finishes are a mix of marble, leather and timber.
There’s a theatrical charcoal grill in the centre of the restaurant; the dining bar surrounding the grill offers guests a prime view of the chefs at work and a glimpse into the excitement of the kitchen. Bruce Langlands, Food Director at Harrods says, “We are absolutely delighted to be collaborating with Eddie Lim on this exciting project. Serving a range of fresh and vibrant dishes, the restaurant provides customers with the best of Chinese cuisine in a theatrical yet elegant setting.
When I heard the chefs call service I had to just go and spy what others had ordered. Such beautiful presentation…
The menu at Chai Wu was created by Chef Jason See Meng Hwa, who specialises in Chinese cookery, and overseen by Executive Chef Ian Pengelley, Group Executive Chef, one of the UK’s leading experts in Asian cuisine. I had a lovely chat with Chef Jason and have been let in to some of the secrets of how to attempt to recreate his delightful dishes, but more of that to come later.
Together Chef Jason and Ian have created a diverse menu incorporating specialty and luxury ingredients that attract those who are passionate about food and of course celebrity guests such as Gok Wan. Starters include soups, dim sum and small dishes such as Chilean sea-bass dumplings with gold leaf, and a wagyu and black pepper puff.
The eight-course Ladies Lunch tasting menu is designed to be the ultimate, extravagant experience for health conscious customers. As a wellness consultant you can imagine this piqued my excitement. Even the little touches at the table makes you relax down after a hard day’s shopping (or in my case client meetings).
The menu created by Executive Chef Ian and Head Chef Jason appeared before us tantalizing our taste buds with a simple but spicy edamame bean with XO sauce. It had the perfect crunch and kick combination.
The next course to adorn our table was a delicate seafood dim sum – steamed lobster and sea bass crystal dumplings
Can this really be healthy because it tastes so good. Just to remind us we are actually eating wellness inspired food we are served our next course of health-induced wheatgrass and avocado shooters which not only whet our appetite for the next course but also was packed full of antioxidants and omega 3 & 6. Tasted surprisingly good for wheatgrass!
Now came a truly inspired dish – poached Shanghainese chicken clear soup with collagen jelly, goji berries and mushroom.
A delightful ritual where you and your friend add in the collagen yourselves to the teapot so you can literally see the goodness you are about to ingest.
Give it a little stir…
Then pour, knowing that your skin is being fed as well as your stomachs!
We partook in some additional dumplings which included a beautifully colorful array of scallop, seabass, lobster, prawn and vegetable dumplings.
Just when I thought Chai Wu could not surprise me anymore, undoubtedly now my favourite salmon dish of all time was placed before me. A crispy, charcoaled salmon marinated in Manuka honey, Shaoxing wine and mandarin.
I was delighted to have the secret from the chef’s kitchen explained to me of just how they create the texture combination of a salmon that was crispy yet fell apart to the slightest touch and the flavour balance of spice from the chilli flakes, the saltiness of the soy and the sweetness of the honey sauce. So for those who are interested, the trick is coating the salmon in honey, pan searing it until crispy then placing it in an oven for only 3 minutes. then pour over the honey sauce.
Obviously I cannot share the secrets of the honey sauce, take a trip to try it and you won’t be disappointed. A green tea fondant, milk and collagen ice cream pudding follows. Now you might turn your nose up at the idea of the bitterness of green tea in a dessert, but you would be mistaken. there is nothing bitter about this delightful dessert. The secret… white chocolate. Glorious amounts of white chocolate that melt in the mouth and explode on both the palate and the plate from the moment you dip your fork into this fabulous creation.
Delightfully ending with a sweet champagne and raspberry-enthused edible lipstick treat. Yes I did say lipstick!
Don’t forget the accompanying strawberry , pink champagne topped with a creme fraiche and sugar art creation.
Bursting with keratin and protein plentiful, the Ladies Lunch menu is available for £70 per person from Sunday – Friday, from 12pm until 5pm.
If ladies lunches are not your thing, there is plenty more on offer. For mains, diners have the option of à la carte dishes or fresh meat, fish and vegetables grilled to order, such as poussin with spicy chilli-lime dressing. Signature plates and specialties include Beijing duck, Alaskan king crab with soy glaze, and lotus root and lily bulb in a spicy toban sauce.
Or you can keep it simple, fresh and light with some sashimi or sushi.
Chai Wu Owner Eddie Lim is thrilled with the new addition to his restaurant group, “A fantastic space for entertaining, Chai Wu will no doubt become one of the top dining destinations in London. We’re delighted to welcome customers to all that Chai Wu has to offer, and provide them with first-class service – as expected in Harrods,” he said. “The food at Chai Wu is exotic, colourful and incredibly tasty.”
Harrods, 87–135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL
020 3819 8888