The first dish that arrives at Chai Wu sets the tone for this bling new restaurant on Harrod’s top floor; cute little wagyu puffs, gilded with gold leaf – two delicious mouthfuls that are gone in an instant.
It is billed as ‘modern’ Chinese though ‘luxurious’ might be more fitting, populated as the menu is with truffle, lobster, caviar, and langoustine. Wagyu fillet is an eye-popping £105. A steam dim sum platter features more gold leaf, truffled prawn and a lobster dumpling topped with caviar.
There are humbler dishes, all just as beautifully presented. Sweet and sour chicken served in a dragon fruit (£18) sees the chook tumbling out the fruit’s pink shell and mixed with spheres of the mildly sweet flesh.
Along with traditional pancakes, cucumber spring onions and hoi sin, Beijing duck comes with Mantou buns (steamed squares, to make little sandwiches) pickled radish, chilli, plum and garlic sauces, along with sugar in which to dip the crispy duck skin. It’s carved at the table and followed up with a second serving – minced duck wrapped in tiny lettuce wraps.
There are classics such as egg-fried rice, crab and sweetcorn soup – so far, so Chinese – but the menu also offers sashimi and sushi – the house special being spicy tuna, spring onions and tuna belly rolls.
The room is small and elegant, with touches of marble and leather echoing the luxurious elements of the food. There’s a semi-open kitchen and on our visit executive chef and pan Asian expert Ian Pengelley was manning the stoves. Sit at the dining bar for the chance to watch the chefs at work.
Price range: Expensive
Highlight: Coconut prawns – delicate, fragrant and crunchy.
Misfire: The screens separating some tables don’t offer much privacy – we could hear our neighbours’ conversation as clearly as if they’d been dining with us.