Yesterday I had the opportunity to dine at Kai in Mayfair, once voted the best chinese restaurant in the UK, thanks to my uncle :P I suspect Hakkasan to be the current best in UK so "pa, the next time you come to UK let's go to Hakkasan"
As with most of the fine dining here, the food were quite beautifully prepared. Taste-wise you would expect them to taste more or less like your normal chinese food, just that it comes in smaller portions and with fresh ingredients.
I didn't take any photos but will try to search online for some of the dishes I tried.
Here's the menu.
Our orders last night were:
- Wasabi Prawns
- Aromatic Crispy Beancurd
- Tan-Jia's Lobster Broth
- Asparagus, Spinach & Glass Noodle Salad
- Stuffed Aubergine
- Roasted Pork Belly
- 'Yin-Yang' Dover Sole
- Almond Jelly in a light syrup with fresh fruits
- Pumpkin Cream with Purple Rice and Coconut Ice Cream
Verdict on atmosphere:
Very nice atmosphere, one of the more quiet restaurant which is quiet odd considering the fact that it's a chinese restaurant. I particularly liked the effort by the restaurant to have a harpist playing last night, thumbs up for that. I was told it can be quite quiet sometimes during lunch.
Verdict on food:
Let's list the verdict in order above.
Starting with the appertisers, I thought the wasabi prawns could do better with a little more actual wasabi with it as I like that little tingling feeling in my nose when I taste wasabi.Dining here gave me a few ideas on some businesses which might work in Malaysia so budding entrepreneurs take note here.
The aromatic crispy beancurd is a great idea I thought. To some, it's just regular "siew ngor"(vegetarian goose) cut into strips served in a pancake with peking duck sauce and the usual spring onions & cucumber. Simple ingredients, great effect. Not to mention it's great for vegetarians.
Tan-Jia's Lobster broth is yummy with its sticky chicken stock over lobster and cooked spinach. The overpowering chicken stock complements the lobster well where you taste 2 distinct sweetness together. The stock was so flavorful I couldn't even taste the usual "bitterness" in the spinach, I usually like this bitterness but in this dish I prefer otherwise.
The Asparagus, Spinach & Glass Noodle Sandwich came with honey & lime dressing. I thought if the chef could shred the spinach and asparagus to make them easier to eat the whole experience would be better. No offence to the chef but a suggestion if he thinks of improving this dish.
The stuffed aubergine is yummy. The only downside to this is that I might be able to replicate the same dish in my own kitchen with my own ingredients. A suggestion for improvement could be to cook the aubergines and line them up symetrically on a nice plate. Also maybe they should serve the sauce separately and not flood the aubergines.
The roasted pork belly came with an apple salad with a sauce. I thought the sauce complemented the pork well. Just a little problem, the belly was a bit too fatty, they should instead use a slightly leaner meat. Personally I still prefer the roasted pork belly I get from Haatyai. No offence to the chef, you could replace this roasted pork with the one from Haatyai and customers will enjoy it more.
I thought the 'Yin-Yang' Dover Sole was quite a creative dish. The bone of the fish is fried to crispy and shaped into a bowl. Under the bowl, deep fried pieces of dover sole are accompanied by a sweet and salty sauce. In the bowl, the same pieces of fish are accompanied by a thick curry sauce. They were tasty but I thought that if we could replace the sweet and salty sauce with the usual "chilli-kicap-limau" sauce which is served in "chap-fan" stalls in Malaysia it would be better.
The above 3 dishes were eaten together with rice.
We had 4 dished but the 2 desserts mentioned were the best. Pumpkin cream dessert was made to look like pumpkin soup served with coconut ice cream and purple rice, a must to try when you visit Kai. All of us enjoy the Almond Jelly which wasn't too sweet and tasted better than "tau fu far".
The 'Yin-Yang' dover sole eaten with rice gave me an idea to possibly serve smaller cubes of fish coated in sauce and then lightly battered in cooked rice. This is to be eaten like sushi but obviously with less portions of rice. One can maybe open a "sushi-bar" style eatery in Malaysia to serve these type of dishes. Possibly even coining a new name for this style of eating. Just replace the cubes of fish to cubes of anything you can think of and serve immediately.
Alternatively, you could serve a plate of rice (layered thinly) so people could coat the food themselves. This is an age where experiential marketing works so by doing this, it gives customers a sense of involvement in preparation of the food which increases the whole experience altogether.
So, any takers of this idea? What do you think?