China Tang

There’s a certain romance about British colonial buildings, restaurants, films – not the blood and gore, but the opulence, the formality, the decor – I’m sure you get the drift. Like for example , the Ed Norton film, the Painted Veil which shows colonial China and luxurious dinners, cocktail evenings, exquisitely dressed men and women and slow, sexy jazz and blues.

Funnily enough, the restaurant in question isn’t about lemony, zesty, citrusy or sour flavours of the far east. It’s a restaurant at the Dorchester hotel in London, named after it’s owner Sir David Tang and the food it offers (see – if I hadn’t told you, you’d never have guessed!). But on a more specific note, Cantonese food. Adorned with beautiful paintings and rich embroidery, the restaurant transports you back a few decades into the days of the British empire and their sumptuous banquets and soirees.

As our white jacketed waiter (normally I’d laugh at white jackets, but in this context, they were right at home!) pointed us to our table, the first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful silver chopstick s I was going to eat with. Oooh.
Soon enough the manager came round to help us with the menu and at first everything I expressed a desire to eat was promptly turned down – ‘sorry, that’s got prawns in it.’ ‘sorry that’s got shrimp in it.’ ‘sorry…’ ‘sorry…’. Oh dear. And this was the meat menu, mind you! Finally we settled on a few things….

Roast pork buns A perennial favourite at most dim sum restaurants. And this one was a winner. Sweet, juicy, spiced pork happily snuggled in fluffy steamed rice cake. Yum.
Taro cakes These were great, although couldn’t taste much meat in them, but tasty nonetheless.
Seafood congee M’s a big fan of congee and this didn’t disappoint at all. It was happily lapped up.

For the mains we settled on

Aubergine hot pot Both of us LOVE aubergine and this dish was brilliant. It didn’t have a wow factor or a ‘oh my god! that’s incredible’ vibe to it, but was really, really, really moreish. A mix of different types of aubergines cooked with sesame oil, garlic, mushrooms, ginger and shallots. Just wanted more and more of it!
Crispy chicken Half a chicken with seriously crispy skin, with spiced salt (nutmeg and star anise) and lime juice on the side. The feet and wings were fought over and we decided to go halvers – just munched the whole thing, bone and all (best bit!). The chicken itself wasn’t anything special, but the spice salt and lime juice made it just right.

All had with some steamed rice and morning glory (aahhh.. divine!)

Mmm…licking lips, still picking at the aubergine and chicken as diners came and went around us – China Tang is a great place to just sit and eat slowly for hours.

But it was time for desserts. We liked the sound of it all but settled on
Warm banana cake, burnt mirin ice cream Wow. It resembled a Goan bebinca with it’s endless layers of banana pancake. Warm, and very banana-ey, but a little dry – which is where the ice cream comes in, which did indeed taste of caramelised mirin (so often these flavours are more just for the sake of a name than the flavour they need to be imparting). All nicely rounded up by a mirin syrup.
Black sesame and coconut & mango ice cream, blood orange sorbet Quite unusual this one. The coconut and mango had very light mango flavours in the introduction which gave way to a strong coconut boost that wasn’t very sweet, but intensely coconutty. I’m guessing coconut oil had a part to play.
The black sesame had bits of caramelised black sesame in the middle which was a nice surprise and the blood orange was as a blood orange should be – zingy and refreshing.

All in all, thoroughly enjoyable and rounded off by some delicious plum wine!

Overall Experience: 8.5
Recommend you to go? 8
Food: 8.5
Wine: 7

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