Chi Kitchen (Pan-Asian) – Oxford St, London
We had the pleasure of visiting Chi Kitchen in late 2016 where we left impressed enough to rate it 4/5 ROARS.
If you don’t already know, then the restaurant’s pan-Asian menu was created by 2014’s MasterChef winner, Ping Coombes.
What makes Chi Kitchen so unique is that it’s located on the ground floor of Debenhams’ flagship Oxford Street branch in Central London, with the main entrance on Henrietta Place and an indoor entrance via the department store.
The 68 cover eatery has introduced a number of new menu items too, including an intriguing Tea Mocktail Collection that we were looking forward to trying.
But, as with all revisits, and unlike our previous review where Mango Tree was adjudged to have dropped half a mark, would Chi Kicthen manage to maintain, or even surpass, its initial review rating?
TEA MOCKTAIL COLLECTION
With its soothingly warm fruitiness, this Rouge Berries is the perfect drink following a good, hearty meal. We enjoyed the way in which the berry mixture gave way to the familiar taste of the fresh strawberry slices floating therein.
The layer of flavours in this tea not only meant that the Ginger Kiss acted as a palette cleanser of sorts, with its light citrusiness, but had with the lychee fruit, made this a great little drink.
As for the My Passion, then despite the garnish of passionfruit, the strongest taste to materialise was the lime, making this a sour one, with an annoyingly thin straw.
Described by one Lion as “tasting very much like icy cream soda pop”, the dominant flavour in this Frozen Fire concoction was the rose syrup resting at the bottom, with the addition of the flavourless fizzy water necessitating a good stir before giving this average drink a go.
Granted it looked the part with its fiery colours, but the Chi Kitchen Paradise, in spite of its claim to being a mango raspberry mixture, only managed to deliver a weak orange taste. Hugely disappointing.
The Director Special was easily the pick of the trio, with its strong lychee flavour nicely offset by the grenadine in the background.
Lovely little morsals of battered Baby Squid Crisps that had a touch of heat to them courtesy of the slices of chilli. Accompanied with a sweet sauce.
The rice was warm, fresh, soft to the touch, and covered in an attractive lime green roe.
While the heat came through gently, this sushi roll was brought alive by the soya sauce, with the crispiness of the sweet tempura crab providing some wonderful textural contrast.
Not quite as good as the Dragon Prawn Tempura and the Chi Kitchen rolls had the first time round though.
This Wagyu Beef Siu Mai left one Lion thoroughly impressed, and the others slightly underwhelmed.
With a soft-skinned outer layer, the succulent wagyu on the inside had a touch of tender chewiness to it that kept us masticating and savouring that deep beefy taste. An enjoyable dimsum.
What a deliciously satisfying Duck Watermelon Salad this was!
This generous bowl comprised of an assortment of vibrant flavours and textures ranging from the sweet, watery cubes of melon marrying well against the deep, meaty, crispy-cum-soft pieces of shredded lightly salted duck, the sharp burst of the pomegranate seeds, the crunch of the cashew nuts, and the freshness of the salad leaves. A wonderful combo!
NOODLES & RICE
The boiled chicken is utterly moist and succulent, and the rice perfectly cooked and fragrant.
However, it’s the vibrantly red, spicy chilli sauce, with its delicious piquancy which, when mixed through the rice, really brings the whole dish together.
A thoroughly enjoyable dish that was appreciated for its simplicity and execution.
While the previous crab rice dish had at Mango Tree failed to impress, Chi Kitchen’s Special Fried Rice was far better, with actual discernible pieces of soft, fishy, meaty, shredded sweet crab to enjoy.
Having said that though, and despite the generous portion, this time, the simplicity of the dish was to its detriment. It was all just a little too subtle; and thus perfect for kids!
This attractively presented Nasi Lemak, a classic Malaysian national dish, comes into its own with all of the constituent parts had together as a whole.
With all textures essentially accounted for, what you’ll experience is the mellow, slightly pungent, sambal sauce seamlessly combining with the sweetly spiced coconut curry sauce with tender chunks of chicken therein.
Combine that with the crunchy slithers of dried salty masala anchovies, the fruity burst of the pomegranate seeds, and the earthiness of the hard boiled eggs, and this dish has you going right till the end.
What made this Chicken Katsu Curry such an enjoyable eat was the full-bodied gravy sauce, with its tiny diced pieces of carrot.
In terms of cooking, then the succulently tender chicken’s lightly spiced, panko-breaded exterior was perfectly golden and crispy on the outside, and rested atop an equally well cooked bed of steamed, fragrant jasmine rice.
And while the gravy curry was plentifully sufficient, we found that stirring some spiced sambal sauce (available upon request) through the rice, added some pleasant heat to the whole dish. Deliciously good!
What more could you ask for in a curry laksa than a super broth chokablok full of seafood treats.
The impressive thing about this Chi Kitchen Laksa was the balance achieved in the mildly spicy, buttery coconut sauce. Gorgeously infused with the fishy taste of the sea, it was just right, being neither too strong nor too insipid. Nevertheless, one has the option of cranking up the heat via the accompanying sambal sauce, which can be stirred through to taste.
With plenty of goodies therein too, including meaty morsals of prawns, a few clams, and some pieces of soft fish cake all swimming alongside tender thick noodles of chewy goodness, this laksa is guaranteed to keep your interest to the last slurp.
There aren’t too many places that offer a Halal pho. The last one we tried was at Vietnamese restaurant House of Ho in Fitzrovia.
This one brought back some great memories. With al dente rice noodles, the broth is clean and subtle in flavour, even after the addition of the accompanying condiments of crunchy slices of onion, coriander, diced red chillis, and a squeeze of the lemon. As such, you may again require the sambal sauce (available upon request) to spruce things up a tad.
Be sure though not to let this rest for any longer than necessary, as the whole point of any pho is to enjoy it piping hot. And forget the etiquette of slurping to your heart’s content.
Cendol is always going to be a love me or hate me affair.
This particular version didn’t really do it for us. As one Lion put it: “Some icy thing with red beans and squidgy green tentacles.”
A saturated ball of milky gelatinous goodness was this Sago Gula Melaka.
Granted it’s fairly basic in terms of the addition of coffee liquid syrup, which imparts a touch of sweetness, this dessert will be optimally enjoyed on a warm, summer’s day.
Although the slightly bitter aftertaste wasn’t to everyone’s liking, we did find that the sharpness of the berry compot on the side worked to somewhat counter said bitterness.
Nonetheless, there was no denying the beautifully smooth texture of this dessert along with the crumbly texture of its biscuit base.
All in all, this was good without being anything special.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
While we recall the Duck & Watermelon Salad creating more of a lasting impression during the previous, the rest of the dishes had were new to us, with most of them certainly leaving us impressed.
Chi Kitchen remains one of the better Halal-friendly, pan-Asian restaurants in London. Serving quality food with impeccable service, this place retains its original rating of 4/5 ROARS.
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