Park Chinois: Big Band, Baby
In April 2015, the chap who gave birth to Wagamama opened a Japanese pub in Soho, Duck & Rice. You can't imagine it working, right? It does, it's pricey, but it's always packed. Said chap is Alan Yau, and he likes to do things differently. Towards the end of last year, he also opened all singing all dancing Park Chinois in Mayfair, and a stones's throw from Sexy Fish, it's sort of like the sultry sexier sister.
It has caused quite a ruckus (and many a dent in a bank balance) in London. My dear friends Sherwin and Charles seem to eat there more than they do at home. We potter up to Park Chinois around 9pm on a Friday, following a few sharpeners at Sexy Fish. If you've walked from Green Park to Berkeley Square recently, you've definitely passed this stunning entrance, but you can't quite prepare yourself for what unfolds inside.
I enjoy a glass of Billecart Salmon whilst ML, Ben and Darty nail a bottle of Margaux. The staff at Park Chinois are all beautiful, by the way. I chat with one of the girls about the stumpy little glass the Champers is served in, she agrees and gets me a proper one. Well, that's a relief. Pre dinner drinks come aperitivo-style with marinated artichokes and nuts, neither remotely Chinese, and that's the charming thing. Downstairs is a labyrinth of cubbyholes, plush banquettes and voluptuous velvet curtains; clever use of the vast space. You could, very easily, hide away here for a long time...
Walking into the main dining room is like stepping back in time, in the best of ways. You just don't get this sort of vibe today. ML described it as a Chinese Annabels, and I reckon she isn't far off. The entertainment is spot on, and they change it up a lot, so I imagine every experience is completely different but reassuringly familiar at the same time.
I'm not a fan of lengthy menus, but as about three of the dishes can be served gluten free, I don't have trouble ordering. The signature dish, roasted duck, arrives ceremoniously. It is a whole duck, cooked beautifully, with no frills and absolutely nothing to hide from. Amen. As well as the usual suspects, there are surprises like 'Park Carbonara' with sea urchin or Iberico pork loin katsu, which are welcome curveballs. Bang bang chicken salad is greasier that is banging, but the soft shell crab with coconut, curry leaf & dried red pepper chilli, and salt & pepper crispy squid are winners, and delightfully gluten free.
We flow with the entertainment and drink fabulous wine. The boys enjoy smashing an 82% dark chocolate bomb, aptly named Gold, to bits at the table and all is well in the world for a few minutes.
Five Very Kerri things about Park Chinois
- The dress code: 'At Park Chinois we adhere to a dress code befitting Ladies and Gentlemen'
- Old school Big Band entertainment
- Effortlessly charming team
- The lock-me-in-here-for-a-day vibe
- It's sexier than Sexy Fish