Just when I thought I’d eaten my way through Harrods, I discovered yet another hidden gem within its cavernous walls – Chai Wu.
Discreetly (and a bit dangerously…) tucked away on the same floor as the iconic Shoe Heaven, the restaurant commands a certain on-trend status of its own, given the growing spotlight on Pan-Asian cuisine in 2017.
It’s as sceney as you’d expect – both moody and atmospheric, with a tacit air of chicness imbibed by the dark interiors, not to mention all the fur and finery donned by the well-heeled clientele gliding in and out! Service too, is impeccable – welcomingly friendly but unobtrusive.
Having decided to lose ourselves to a luxuriously languid afternoon, mother and I all-too-cosily settled in with Asian-inspired martinis (think lychee-chilli and passionfruit), and of course that ultimate toast – champagne.
While the sumptuous sashimi spreads and extravagantly carved Beijing duck have been oft extolled of this contemporary restaurant, we were incredibly gratified to see a dedicated vegetarian menu on request, as it’s a bit of a rarity in Asian restaurants. Spoilt for choice, we sprung for both sushi and dim sum!
Amply filled with a crisp sweet potato and avocado tempura, our maki roll was definitely more gutsy than the usual veggie sushi options of pallid cucumber or plain avocado. While there was a delicate yet earthy appeal to the steamed mushroom dumplings, each parcel pristinely sealed with a goji berry.
Chai Wu’s signature miso salad made for a punchy side plate, courtesy of the umami-rich miso-mayo dressing generously drizzled across.
In the strategic interest of saving plentiful room for afters (you’ll see why in just a minute), we also shared a grilled tofu. Contrary to how it sounds, it was actually rather moreish: pan-seared to a perfectly golden crisp exterior, smothered with a black garlic and wafu (Japanese-style) dressing and topped off with plumptious stems of asparagus.
And then this happened.
Chai Wu is helmed by the same group behind one of my favourite Thai restaurants, Mango Tree Belgravia, and I was delighted to see the latter’s iconic chocolate sphere on the menu. Under duress from all the lashings of hot toffee caramel poured on top, it melted away with a satisfying pop to reveal a medley of fresh berries within.
The surprise-factor continued with our chocolate fondant, which oozed a bittersweet matcha filling with the lightest of cuts! The astringent flavours were deftly balanced by scooping out the passionfruit served on the side, and pouring it into the fondant’s centre…
Richly satisfying, it was a lavish note on which to conclude our long and lazy lunch before we ambled off to find our next favourite pair of shoes!
Chai Wu, Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
I was a guest of Chai Wu; as always all opinions are mine and mine alone.