Kensington Mums were excited to be invited to the new high end restaurant Chai Wu, situated on the 5th floor of the luxurious shopping department, Harrods. We were invited to sample their Ladies lunch; a Collagen inspired menu created by their Executive Chef Ian Pengelly, with the aim of introducing a concept of healthy and delicious pan-Asian food.
We were intrigued by the sound of Collagen in our food. We were aware of the benefits of collagen and how it is found in many skincare products as a skin revitaliser but hadn’t considered adding it to our meals.
At Chai Wu they explained how Collagen is very important for the Chinese diet and how in Chinese culture collagen is believed to make your skin look younger, hydrated, help with eliminating wrinkles and increase elasticity of the skin as well as being great for bones and joints. In China, they believe that the best collagen is the natural one, which is found in certain specific ingredients.
The staff at Chai Wu was very professional and attentive. Our waitress was very polite and sweet, making sure our glasses always had water and we were happy throughout the meal. The restaurant itself is very elegant, with dimmed lights and a soft music playing in the background.
We had just come from the busy roads of Knightsbridge and the always busy vibes of Harrods’ shopping departments but as soon as we sat down, we managed to completely switch off feeling at peace with the surroundings and ready to enjoy our 8 course meal.
Lunch started with a little round bowl of ‘steamed soy beans served with XO sauce’ accompanied by thinly sliced pickles sticks served on a dark rectangular slate. As simple as steamed soybeans and pickles are, they were seasoned just right and made it a great nibble to get started with.
We then had ‘delicately steamed lobster and sea bass crystal dumplings’. The dumplings looked so perfect that it was hard to cut into them or destroy them by eating them. They were presented in a bamboo basket, laid on a perfectly round cut banana leaf accompanied by tasty caviar and sparkling gold ‘paper’ on the top. The lobster and the fish filling was cooked to perfection, delicate and full of flavour, such a shame we only had one each because I could have had a whole plate full of those.
We were then served ‘wheatgrass and avocado shooters’. The health benefits of this serving are incredible and I think it worked very well as a ‘break’ in-between other richer foods but unfortunately, as much as I adore avocado and like wheatgrass, as a drink, they didn’t completely agree with me.
I instead couldn’t get enough of the ‘beauty bucket of clear soup, poached Shanghainese chicken and collagen jelly’. The dish was simple but very well presented. The soup with mushrooms and chicken broth came in a clear glass teapot with a spoonful of jelly on the side and a little white bowl with a small peeled tomato at the centre of it to pour the soup in. This was our first taste of collagen and I was eager to try it. The waitress advised us to taste the jelly before adding it to the soup as some people find it salty and overpowering for the delicate broth. I found the soup tasty, the mushrooms and chicken gave it a good flavour but adding the jelly made it just perfect.
During the meal, the Chef came to introduce himself and ask if we were happy with our lunch. The restaurant was busy and we thought it was very kind of him to take the time to come meet with us and make sure we were happy with his dishes. He talked about his dishes and his passion for the food he created, which was a joy to listen to.
As main we had the ‘crispy charcoaled salmon marinated in manuka honey, Shaoxing wine and mandarin’.
The plate was presented perfectly with three small salmon fillets alongside each other on a white rectangular plate, topped with mandarin bites, a brush of honey on the plate and a sweet creamy mandarin sauce on the side. The salmon was cooked to perfection, crisp on the outside and soft and juicy inside. I personally don’t normally like mandarin/orange on my meat or fish but the combination on this dish was just right and I thought it was clever to have the sauce on the side instead of on the fish or dish itself, this way I was able to add it to my liking, which I surprisingly did and I almost finished it.
When the time for dessert came, I wasn’t sure I could have any until the ‘Green tea fondant, milk and collagen ice cream‘ and the ‘Edible lipstick’ was served. WOW! Having a sweet tooth myself, I’ve had my good share of desserts but this one was a real showstopper.
The Green Tea fondant could not be faulted. It was soft, delicate and just delicious and the creamy milk inside was perfect for the fondant’s sponge. The ice cream was refreshing and there was passion fruit on the side, which gave it a sharp twist to the whole sweetness.
As if that wasn’t enough to impress, the edible lipstick was delightful; a sweet red sorbet in a real plastic lipstick case which was fun and tasty at the same time, served in a bowl of crushed ice and forest fruits; WHAT FUN!!!
Dessert came with a delicious sparking drink on the side, Champagne served in a beautifully elegant glass, cream and strawberries. Unfortunately for us, I am pregnant and couldn’t drink but I made sure to have a sip and must admit that both myself and bump enjoyed the fizz and I will be coming back for a full one as soon as I can.
During the meal we also met with Eddie Lim, the owner of Chai Wu. He was incredibly excited, as he was soon to become a grandfather for the first time. Firstly, we would like to congratulate Mr Lim on the arrival of his first granddaughter and to thank him for the most wonderful lunch.
Mr Lim talked to us about his family, his background, and the different nationalities in his family and how that had been an inspiration towards the food he serves in his restaurants.
He was proud about his work, explaining that his mission in Chai Wu was to get his Chef to be creative and give customers modern Chinese food, which he saw as colourful, tasty and exotic. Most importantly Mr Lim underlined how No MSG and artificial colouring are used in his dishes and how his foods are freshly prepared at the restaurant and none of his ingredients are frozen. Which we, Kensington mums highly appreciate.
Meeting Mr Lim and listening to him talk about his restaurant and food with such passion made our lunch even more pleasurable. Mr Lim is also the owner of Mango Tree, Pan Chai and Chi Kitchen. We thoroughly enjoyed trying collagen in our food (and look forward to seeing the results). We found that every dish we were presented with was cared for in the smallest details, and the flavours tickled our taste buds in the best of ways.
We look forward to visiting Chai Wu again soon and hopefully visit Mr Lim’s other restaurants as well.