Out of the many food outlets in Harrods, Chai Wu is smart addition. With the change in the demographics of its customers, catering to the designer-clad, black card wielding Asian clientele is well calculated.
Arriving for lunch, we were met with their very friendly staff. Cocktails were offered as soon as we sat down, while we perused their very comprehensive menu. It’s not just Chinese dishes on the menu but included some Japanese, Malaysian and Thai dishes too.
When the highly enthusiastic Zuzana suggested that she orders for us, we just nod and leave her to it. I know that she was thinking, these 2 “slim” ladies, probably can’t eat very much. (She told us later that two other journalists the previous day did not eat very much of their meal at all.)
Meanwhile, we just enjoyed our two champagne cocktails, the signature hibiscus one and one fragrant with fig and rose syrup. we have a table with a view of the open kitchen. The long dining room is lined by the open kitchen and counter seating on the right of the entrance and a more private areas in the back. The chefs seem to be all Chinese with a Thai chef wielding the cleaver to carve the Beijing Duck.
I like the tables for two with bucket seats by the carved screen that peeks into the men’s department. There is no natural daylight and is lit like a nightclub. If not for the light from the open kitchen, we wouldn’t have been able to see our food.
The menu is not so much Chinese but a curation of the most popular dishes from across Asia. There is their much Instagrammed dim sum bar, highly decorative sushi rolls, that Beijing Duck, giant tiger prawns for grilling and an ala carte menu of Chinese and Thai dishes.
Around us are shoppers who have stopped by for a quick bite, tourists and regular Knightsbridge locals.
There is a new specials menu which includes in the intriguing “Sea Urchin fried rice” and “Crispy Goose” which sounds scrumptious but we didn’t try.
Their Harrods Roll Sushi is an inside out sushi roll with snow crab, avocado with black and orange tobiko. Fay Maschler thought this very “Chinese” but we thought it was a great attempt at a posh California roll.
Their finely executed dim sum platter featured scallop dumpling, wagyu beef dumpling were the stand out favourites. You can also order this in Mango Tree in the Food Halls.
That Beijing Duck is their signature dish, served 2 ways. The first is thin slices of duck. It is expertly carved by a chef with a cleaver tableside. These are eaten with the pillowy soft man tou buns or the more regular pancakes.
Top tip: Smear some of the hoisin sauce, some of the garlic sauce and a few drops of chilli oil, load up with a few slices of duck and accompaniments.
Don’t ignore the tray of sauces. The minced garlic steeped in truffle oil works surprisingly well with the buns. It makes eating this little bun into a “Harry Met Sally” moment.
Duck meat from the rest of the duck is stir fried with finely chopped vegetables and served in lettuce cups. This was a bit too sweet. Maybe we should have chosen the duck fried rice but my friend was on a low carb diet.
The wine list is not that long but is a curated collection of some interesting fine wines, many available by the glass. The Cote du Rhone was a good match with the duck.
You can’t miss the display of the massive, foot long tiger prawns, giant scallops and Canadian lobsters. We had the scallops and prawns simply grilled and served with a umami rich dipping sauce. Our waitress suggested that we tried the fresh wasabi that is served with the sushi. She said their bosss has that spicy condiment with everything.
Off the ala carte menu, we had the Chilean Seabass with a champagne and honey sauce. The miso marinated fish was beautifully grilled. Taste the creamy white flakes of this fish, without the sauce first. The sweet sauce might appeal to your tastebuds but was unnecessary.
Alessandro, their somelier is also a bit of a tea expert. They have quite a stunning tea menu that will appeal to Tea Geeks like me, sourced from Notting Hill’s Chinese Tea Company.
Our aged Pu Erh was expertly prepared on a tea art tray. The mellow, full bodied tea was just the perfect end to the meal.
Wagyu beef features in several dishes on the menu. These tender, wagyu beef skewers had a nice charring and served with the most delicious citrussy dipping sauce.
With that Zuzana added a plate of stir fried Kai Lan, just to balance out our meal.
We were warned to leave room for pudding. Most Chinese restaurants don’t do puddings well. At Chai Wu, we are offered a Green Tea Chocolate fondant served with passion fruit and the show stopping melting chocolate sphere with salted caramel.
Here is a place where there the cooking is uncompromising. Using only the most luxurious produce, the chefs treat them with respect and in most dishes we tried, did not overload them with unnecessary extras. Be warned, the dishes are quite pricey. If you have only ever had Chinese from take aways, this is as far away from that in terms of quality and price.
Chai Wu is located in a corner fo the men’s clothing department on the fourth floor. Eventually, after walking under a chandelier of butterflies (part of their summer theme) and several departments, we found it. Tip:easiest to take the entrance on the Western side of Harrods, opposite Rigby and Peller.
If you want a real treat, go for the glorious Beijing Duck, some sushi rolls, that Chilean Seabass and save room for that chocolate sphere. Magical.
Lunch is probably a better time to sample the menu as it closes early as the shop closes. Definitely a great choice for a stylish Asian meal.
87–135 Brompton Rd,
London SW1X 7XL
EatCookExplore was a guest of Chai Wu