It’s a Chinese New Year tradition to get together with family and friends for meals. Being in England means Chinese New Year is just another workday for me. But that doesn’t stop me to get together with my friends for our version of Chinese New Year meal. This year, we decided to go for something nice and picked Chai Wu for our CNY dinner.
Chai Wu is a high-end Chinese restaurant located on the 5th floor of Harrods. Don’t know about you but I got rather lost trying to find the right elevator to get there. Just as a tip, find the Hans Road elevator and you won’t be a lost sheep like I was!
The Hans Road elevator brings you directly to the door of the restaurant. We were greeted by very lovely smiley faces, who took our coats into the cloakroom and showed us our table. The restaurant is not particularly huge and gives an intimate luxury vibe.
Here is what we ordered:
Squid Ink & Salted Egg Yolk Dumpling (£19) & Lobster Caviar Dumpling (£19)
To start with, we ordered some dumplings from the dim sum section. The first one was the Squid Ink & Salted Egg Yolk dumpling. It was definitely something different and quite an innovative dish – at least you certainly don’t see a black dumpling on the menu everyday! The dumpling was bursting with a salted egg yolk flavour, although it seem to have overwhelmed the seafood filling a little bit.
As for the Lobster Caviar dumpling, the caviar added an exquisite fancy touch to it. However, the filling itself, while having great al dente texture, somehow didn’t taste that much like lobster. In fact, it tasted more like prawns – so a prawn dumpling with an extra fancy touch of caviar. No doubt it’s a well-executed dish but it’s not as wowing as it sounded.
Soft Shell Crab in Spicy Salt (£17)
Once again, I see soft shell crab and I just had to order it! These golden soft shell crab are served over a bed of crispies and topped with spicy salt & chillies. The crab was meaty and cooked perfectly crispy. Nevertheless, the coating of the crab itself wasn’t seasoned much. But that spicy salt was certainly a flavourful one. It’s very savoury and palatable – the addictive type that gets you keep coming back for more.
Wagyu Puff (£19)
Looking through the menu, there was quite a number of Wagyu dishes available. From stir fries to tartare, we decided to go for the Wagyu Puffs.
These puff pastries actually reminded me of those from Chi Kitchen, but a fancier version of it (I mean…look at the gold flakes on top!). The puff pastry was very buttery, with a light crunch at every bite. In terms of the filling, it was pretty juicy and the meat was tender.
Beijing Duck (£56 half / £96 whole)
Arguably one of my most favourite Chinese dishes of all time, I had my eyes all set on this one the moment we decided to come to Chai Wu. Just as how a traditional Peking Duck is served, the chef comes out with the roast duck and start slicing it up in front of you.
In Chinese, Peking Duck is also called 片皮鴨, which translates directly into “slicing skin duck”. The concept is that you slice out all that crispy skin (to be savoured with Mandarin pancakes & hoisin sauce), and then use the remaining meat for a different dish like fried rice. That’s exactly what Chai Wu offers. You get to choose from Minced Duck Lettuce Wrap or Duck Fried Rice.
Starting with the duck itself, it was super tasty. It was very beautifully and expertly carved from the duck, featuring the perfect balance of skin, fat, and meat. An array of dipping sauces were served together with the roast duck in addition to the classic sweet hoisin sauce. I particularly also enjoyed the sweet plum sauce to go with the roast duck.
You are not limited to just traditional Mandarin pancakes as well. Steamed bao buns were also included.
Duck Fried Rice (included with the Beijing Duck)
As mentioned, the Beijing Duck comes with the option of Minced Duck Lettuce Wrap or Duck Fried Rice. And we went with the latter.
Traditionally, the skin of the roast duck gets carved and then the duck would be brought back to the kitchen to make the other dish(es). You basically create multiple courses of a meal out of that one duck.
Well, we didn’t think it was exactly the same duck for the fried rice here. This is because the duck fried rice arrived at our table literally within seconds the remaining duck got brought back into the kitchen. Even with the quickest knife skills, I doubt one can chop up half a duck in just two seconds and get it cooked in fried rice!
Anyway, the portion of the duck fried rice was smaller than expected. It still tasted nice though. Nothing too extraordinary. It tasted like how a good egg fried rice should be with a subtle touch of duck flavours in it. There wasn’t a lot of duck pieces in there so was slightly left feeling underwhelmed about this part of the whole Peking Duck experience.
…I feel like Chai Wu was a decent place but not necessarily a place with the best value. The Beijing Duck was the highlight of the meal but other dishes were rather forgettable and not entirely worth the money in my opinion. It’s a lovely Chinese New Year meal to enjoy with friends but it’s more of a one-off meal for me.
Tel: 020 3819 8888 | Website: https://www.chaiwu.co.uk/
Nearest Underground station: Knightsbridge