This year, I decided to celebrate Chinese New Year at Park Chinois in Mayfair. Although my friends and I are regulars of this restaurant, we are still excited to try out their special Chinese New Year menu.
The affection I speak of is for the feel of the place, the atmosphere. I love the concept of Park Chinois and the Old World Charm of bygone Shanghai. It always feels glamorous to be here and the live music performance is always excellent.
For this year’s Chinese New Year, we were greeted with a red envelope with a cute illustration of the “Pig of Prosperity” each. Inside was our personal prediction for 2019. Mine was titled “Wealth Prediction”, whilst my friend’s was “Love Prediction”. We all had a smile on our faces after reading what was inside. This was certainly a fun start. I do hope my prediction comes true!
We decided to order a signature cocktail each. Mine was “Smokey Yamatumi”, a Japanese whiskey based cocktail mixed with sencha tea infused americano, persimmon syrup, plum bitter and oak smoke. It was a mature, aromatic cocktail with perfect balance of woody note of oak smoke and fruity plum and persimmon flavours.
Our first appetizer was the hot and sour soup (£9), which was pretty good. This was not the best I ever had, but certainly above average.
Being a Chinese New Year, we decided to order Park Chinois’ signature noodles dish, “Park Carbonara” – Inaniwa Udon with sea urchin, 65° poached egg and guanciale (£35). Noodles are an essential part of a Chinese New Year meal because the long length signifies longevity, a symbol of good health for the year ahead. I have to admit that I was not too impressed when I first tried this dish back in 2015 when the restaurant first opened, because of the lack of sea urchin pieces (I love sea urchins!). This time, though, I was much more satisfied with the amount of sea urchins presented on the dish. We finished this pretty quickly together with a second round of cocktails, Rouge Intime.
The highlight of our dinner was the special “Sweet Piggy Buns”, which certainly lived up to its name. These pink piggy steamed custard buns were almost too adorable to eat! The lava-style custard filling was a good balance between sweet and saltiness. The bun itself was soft and moist. Little piggies turned out to taste even better than they look. Sadly, none of them survived.
For those of you who want to try Park Chinois’ famous “Duck de Chine”, aka Peking Duck (£98 for a whole duck), advanced order by telephone at the time you book a table is recommended. If you order it at the table, you will have to wait at least 1 hour for it. In my case on a previous visit, we had to wait over 1.5 hours.
Although the duck was indeed cooked to perfection in traditional style, I must say that it was not really worth the price tag. There are better pecking ducks in London such as Min Jiang at Royal Garden Hotel (£72 for a whole duck). I found the duck skin at Park Chinois to oily, and I did not like it that there was no option to choose on how the duck meat should be cooked. Traditionally, duck meat would be cooked separately, and we would have some options of how we want the duck meat served.
Overall, Park Chinois always deliver a perfect balance of good food, good drinks and great music in a glamourous and fun atmosphere. So, it is always a good choice for an evening out with friends.