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As a foodie, it is strange that I rarely go for Dim Sum. Never really initiated it because to me, it is a family tradition that I grew up with. Sunday mornings, Chinese New Year, families gatherings, that’s the time I do dim sum. So when I was introduced to this new dim sum place in Mayfair, I was curious but honestly a little skeptical about how authentic it can possibly be- comparing to the ones I am used to back home in Hong Kong.

 

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Park Chinois is the latest project from renowned restaurateur Alan Yau. That gives a little credential of the food, but there can also be a potential of over-hyped new restaurant scene. Just like every new place in London is. A latter-day revival of the ’30s dinner-dance experience, jazzy glittering vibe, recreating the glamour of that golden era. To me it is a combination of Paris’s Maxim and the old “Ye Shanghai” (夜上海) dancing restaurants. I was amazed when I step in, almost forgot I’m right in the middle of central London. (You know, a little like the scene in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, where Owen Wilson was at the Maxim in the golden age).

 

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All the red and gold was a little overwhelming at first, but once I sat down and slowly soaking in the environment, it is actually more French than Shanghainese to me. Spread over 2 floors, the Salon de Chine, serving some traditional regional Chinese food such as dim sum lunch and a dinner experience offset by a curated programme of ‘big-band’ live performances. The tables are set with just about the right amount of distance and privacy, matching with rustic floral print sofas and armchairs. (How comfortable!) And downstairs at Club Chinois is where you can experience from early supper until later at night, sipping cocktails in those deep velvets sofas (those fan like sofas are gorgeous) , or dance to the performance of  late night DJs.


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The bar at the entrance of the restaurant is gorgeous, red velvet finishings, lanterns with the green marble table top…luxurious. The club downstairs shouts Chinese royalty. The colour palette is very much an Emperor’s colour- yellow, gold, red, navy blue, dark violet.

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These are the fan like sofas I mentioned earlier. You can’t quite see clearly here, but they are actually all connected- one big sofa with few tables.

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Designed by Jacques Garcia and Yau, Park Chinois surely represents the beauty of French Chinoiserie.

Lets take a look at the dim sum. I have to say, they are very good. I had only tried a few selected dishes, but all of them are very authentic and made to a very high quality.

The cheung fan (腸粉) pastry is freshly made daily in the kitchen , so as the homemade sichuan chilli sauce they serve.


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Dumplings are filled with fresh ingredients and you can tell they are freshly made/steamed.


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Cuttle fish cake- filled with cuttle fish and the batter is fried to slightly crispy.

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This is a puffy mushroom tart with walnut- the pastry is good but not too oily. One of my fav.

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For the price of the food, given that it is a project with a well known restauranteur in the most luxurious part of central London, it is not expensive at all. (you might end up paying similar prices in China Town but the setting and services are WAY different). Very attentive and polite staff, I also overheard the multi-lingual staff catering to different customers in the restaurant.

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Another of my favourite is this sichuan chilli vegetable dumpling , tastes perfect. (almost a vegetarian version of the 紅油抄手)

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This taro croquette with king crab, scallop and prawn is very crispy, and not at all oily.

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This is the Cornish crab wonton, it is nice, but I prefer the sichuan chilli one more.


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For lunch, not only they serve dim sum, they also do mains and seconds, and dessert. Plus 2 thick wine list and drink menu and a long list of tea and coffee. They do serve some interesting dessert, but I was expecting a little more traditional chinese options. Having said that, the dessert is also delicious.


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The verdict? Park Chinois is worth at least one visiting, and another one at night for drinks. I would really love to see how the place transforms into the old school glamourous club.  Be sure to make a reservation though because this place gets so fully booked especially for dinner.

 

Park Chinois

Address : 17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA