Dinner Time Story ‘Banquet of Hoshena’ – London WestfieldAdvertisement Advertisement
An immersive environment uniquely combining gastronomy with “cutting edge 3D visual technology, image mapping, experiential props and effective storytelling through flavours, ingredients, sights, sounds and tastes”, this is a dining experience like no other.
These are the same people who brought us the story Le Petit Chef, which celebrated the legendary Italian explorer Marco Polo and which our Dubai team reviewed back in 2017.
At a hefty £85 per seat, one storytelling session lasts 2-hours, with diners being served 5-courses while being transported to the mystical land of Hoshena, which lays “bare, dark and empty” as a result of bad emotions, such as anger, sadness and fear, being banished.
With two sessions running during the weekdays and three on the weekends, there’s nine tables available for a maximum of 36 guests per session (four persons per table).
“The beginning of the end of time”
As the Kingdom comes to an end, diners taste a flavour that evokes autumn. Derived from the Latin word “fall” – the ‘fall’ of the kingdom is symbolised through mushroom/funghi. A delicate mushroom croquette sets the scene with a subtle date and tamarind sauce.
To start off this magical dine, a collection of croquette balls were carefully arranged atop a spinning plate that was made to levatate in the centre of our table thanks to some fancy physics and some magnets.
This barely warm mushroom croquette made for an interesting start to the story, with a delicately crunchy exterior and a well seasoned meaty textured interior.
It was paired with a citrus flavoured beverage with floral sweet notes that helped prime the taste buds for the forthcoming starter.
“Fear through fog”
The emotion of fear is evoked in the next course, as liquid nitrogen is used in front of the diners creating a foggy and fearful scene. A warm, white chickpea broth is served while diners are spoken to from their bowl and ‘smokey ice cubes’ light up their soup through the mist and fog.
Following the theatre created by the dreamy white clouds of dry ice rolling across the dining table, we were presented with clear plastic squares representing ice cubes, which when submerged into the middle of a semi-thick plate of lentil soup as instructed, began emitting a cascade of colours.
But with all that said and done, when you strip away the props, you’re left with a decently executed plate of lentil soup sans garnish and accompanied with ultra crusty bread.
This came with a drink that was outstandingly good and, if we’re being honest, the highlight of the entire review. A wonderfully balanced sweet concoction that had an almost coconut-cum-lavendar like taste to it.
The volcanic scenes are represent heat and anger. Diners will be introduced to a charcoal, chicken slider with a mix of chilli garnishes, that they serve themselves depending on their spice level. The encapsulates the tone of the course symbolising volcanic ash (in the bun) and anger (through chilli spices).
While the fillet of battered chicken was thick and moist, with a red cabbage based creamy coleslaw topping, this certainly required plenty of either, or in our case, all of the three chilli garnishes – powder, flakes, and thinly sliced slithers of red chilli and jalapenos – to add some heat and elevate this otherwise decent burger to something more meaningful.
Unlike the previous two courses, however, it was disappointing that we were only served a glass of water with this one.
“Sadness/nostalgia through water”
The emotion of sadness, symbolised through water, is translated as a perfectly cooked piece of fish sitting on cucumber, apple and lime juice sauce (symbolising a lily pad). A delicate dish for a delicate emotion.
After pouring scented water from a thin blue goblet, we were served a large fillet of salmon on a bed of mashed potato and topped with a single stalk of broccolini all smartly presented in a large deep white plate.
With this came a mini jug of buttery green sauce which provided a sour tangy edge to a dish that had velvety smooth mash and perfectly cooked, translucent salmon which flaked apart at the merest of touches. A dish of simple ingredients executed masterfully. There’s also a vegan alternative too (see below).
In complete contrast to the fantastic mocktail enjoyed with the starter, this fizzy one was altogether more toned down, perhaps owing to the delicate flavours of the fish, with mild citrusy vibes.
The decadent ingredient is the epitome of love. It is the symbol of passion, love, and commitment. It is also seen as a mood elevator. What better way to end the story, than a double chocolate dessert with rose petals. A gluten free and dairy free chocolate cake with a vegan chocolate sorbet hits all the notes for a grand finale!
While the former was chocolatey enough, we did find it to dissolve into a peculiar paste-like texture.
The chocolate sorbet was warm and more smooth and creamy in consistency than sorbet, though very nice in its own right. As a finale, it was decent enough.
- YES/ NO
- DISABLED FACILITIES
In this case and at £85 a seat, there's also no denying the fact that the 'Banquet of Hoshena' revolves as much around the immersive theatre and interactive nature of the storytelling, brought to life by stunning 3D visual technology, as it does the menu itself. In fact, it's obvious when looking beyond the props, lighting and effects, that the food is uncomplicatedly straightforward, with nothing threatening to stretch the boundaries of gastronomy.
In comparison to its sister act in Dubai, Dinner Time Stories, Le Petit Chef, which tells the story of the route navigated by the legendary Italian explorer Marco Polo, this appeared more elaborate, dealing with philosophical and metaphysicals truths re emotions and states of being. We did find ourselves having to concentrate that little bit harder than anticipated.
If you've never experienced this type of food-meets-3D projected storytelling concept before, then this 2-hour multi-sensory entertainment event is certainly worth it, provided you don't go in with any high culinary expectations.
And a well done too to an evidently well regimented staff, over the proficiency with which they went about seamlessly transitioning between one course and the next, while immediately at hand to attend to any confusions or mishaps. The collective round of applause at the end of the evening was well deserved.
In the end, however, when it comes down to brass tacks as they say, FtLion's reviews are based on a strict criteria, with Food weighing in far heavier than the other three categories. As such, had we been an entertainment website reviewing the Banquet of Hoshena, things would have been different. As it stands, however, we're judging this on the merit of the food too, so bear this in mind when considering the final rating.
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