Park Chinois

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img30032For any of you who are venturing to London this spring for the Silly Season it might be worthwhile to book now for the ultimate Chinoiserie experience in Mayfair at Park Chinois. I say Chinoiserie because our Western expectations of Chinese food are all colored by our own memories. Spare ribs on Sunday nights with the family, cook’s day off, cheap meals in college town anywhere USA, Mr. Chow’s food with Italian waiters and tongue-friendly, less than super spicy Szechuan cuisine, Drunken Shrimp at the Mandarin Hotel Hong Kong. All of the above apply to Mr. Alan Yau (late of Wagamama) and Park Chinois, his latest excursion into entertainment via the taste buds and several other senses.

If you like your restaurant of choice to e-mail you with a dire warning before you enter their portals that “YOU MUST BE ON TIME OR YOUR TABLE WILL BE RE-ASSIGNED;” if you like your restaurant to have the design features of a very expensive bordello of the imagination circa 1936 Shanghai, red, black, white, sharp, sumptuous and over the top; if you long to see your former waiter at your favourite Japanese local restaurant come up to you with smiles and embraces as the hostess in a cheongsam seats you at table; if you adore loud jazz music and an English chantoosie belting out classic Tin Pan Alley numbers, with intermittent heavy rock music; if you like your chopped chicken with so many hot dried peppers that your eyes pop out of the sockets – you will love this place.

That said, most of the dishes were delicious and the duck is a must. The wine flowed with abandon (very attentive service) and the level of discourse amongst us four was euphoric after two and a half bottles of the best red. We laughed. We teared up. We enjoyed every over the top moment. This is global London at its most extreme, its best, its worst. It is “Star Wars” with table cloths. It is the two headed bartender. IT IS THE BEST OF ALL TIMES. IT IS THE WORST OF ALL TIMES. It is “A Tale of Two Cities” in a whirlwind.

It is also down from Sexy Fish, which though spectacular in decoration reminded one of the old automat or dining in Grand Central Station. Park Chinois is the real deal. Fasten your seatbelt as you sit down. It is an adventure and you will love it. Bring money.

Kaaren Hale

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