Park Chinois – Experiential Dining In The Heart of London’s Mayfair

Park Chinois is a renowned restaurant in Mayfair, known for its luxurious setting and offering the finest Chinese and South East Asian cuisine. Designed by Jacques Garcia, the restaurant features two distinct dining experiences: Salon de Chine, providing an intimate atmosphere with exceptional Asian cuisine and live jazz performances, and Club Chinois, recreating the ambiance of Shanghai supper clubs with a decadent menu and live entertainment acts. Following the launch of its Limited-Edition Chichibu Whisky, The Luxury Editor was invited to experience Park Chinois. Read on to discover more.

The art of the front desk and the Maitre’d seems an increasingly vestigial concept in contemporary restaurant culture where slippery economies of scale require a quick in and out to massage bottom lines. It’s a testament of intent, therefore, that Park Chinois has bucked this trend and engaged Giorgio Lucarelli to fulfil this important role. A man with roughly 20 years of experience in the London restaurant scene, Giorgio has worked at the best, for the best, from Nobu to Sexy Fish. He looks more elegant than the majority of diners he seats, bursts with bonhomie and a glowing intelligence and reminds, in a lateral way, of Harvey Keitel’s ‘The Wolf’ from Pulp Fiction (without the body disposal bit, naturally).

His warmth is infectious and his natural sense of occasion sets the tone perfectly for an immersive experience which recreates the quintessence of 1930s Shanghai dining for a contemporary crowd. The overwhelming colour in the dining room is a deep but embryonic crimson. Swathes of falling fabric, painted columns, and diaphanous lampshades mingle with subdued lighting to provide an affecting calmness.

To kick off the night, we opt for a L’Amour D’Agave –  which consists of Tierro Blanco Tequila, Muyu Vetiver Liqueur, Hibiscus Syrup and grapefruit. It arrives in a jet black earthenware glass and at a casual glance reminds of gazpacho. But the taste, of course, couldn’t be further apart. The cocktail is smoky and mature in an edifying way and further adds to a laid-back calmness.

To start, the chef serves a selection of steamed Dim Sum in two small bamboo baskets. Consisting of four variations on traditional themes, the Seasonal Black Truffle Dumpling steals the show but each bursts with flavour, texture and freshness. The Sea Scallop is decorated as if it were in its own edible shell and the Scampi Shumai is surrounded by crisp wrapping and topped with tobiko for extra colouring and taste.

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Duck de Chine (crispy duck pancakes), requires 24 hours’ notice and is considered the restaurant’s speciality. It’s easy to see why because Duck de Chine isn’t quite like other crispy ducks. Rather than the meat being pulled at the table, someone’s already done the dirty work and rearranged it to resemble something quirky, unfamiliar, practically unrecognisable; a slightly distressed shellfish maybe. If the pancake rolls are dainty and the meat strays from the norm by being chunky rather than stringy, it’s the skin, the distressed shellfish part, which is the real show stopper. Not only is the glazed skin practically regimental but its delicious crunch comes with a surprise; a thin layer of liquid fat which turns an already succulent dish into an irresistible, dripping and drooling one.

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Piped 40s and 50s tunes have been playing since we arrived but there’s a small space for a small band with small drums and a large piano. The chanteuse wears all black, is accompanied by a double bassist and a soft slapping percussionist and sings torch songs and old-fashioned classics. Fever. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (two minutes walk away). In Heaven. It’s almost Lynchian but without the quirk. Without the recurring nightmare themes. The band are great. The chanteuse is great. Few people clap after each song but we do.

The main dishes are generous in size. The Grilled Chilean Sea Bass with Plum Sauce is ever so slightly crispy on the outside but silky and sweet on the inside. The Scottish Rib Eye and Black Pepper is steakhouse quality and comes with a hint of sesame seed and a mixture of crunchy onions and cooked ones which is unusual but works surprisingly well. The dish offers a deep, earthy, peppery flavour. The fried rice is Yangzhou-inspired and is served not only with four King Prawns on its top but impressive chunks of chicken on its inside. It could be a dish in its own right and much like all the others, is very Instagrammable though if you check out #ParkChinois, there are more photos of slinky women than succulent prawns.

In the basement the Wave Bar ripples, leads into Club Chinois where more cabaret (dancers, singers, topless men, etc,) offer marginally more ‘adult’ entertainment against the backdrop of louder music. If the surroundings are opulent and charismatic, it is, however, the toilet which is the must-visit location. Golden swans preen almost aggressively with wings flushed backwards and serve as taps, mirrors are large and gilded and create a journey into infinity, basins resemble antiquated dynasty bowls, urinals are are practically art deco and the cubicles, reminiscent of elaborate wooden Tardis.

Back upstairs, in a back-to-front kind of way, dessert resembles Heston Blumenthal’s Meat Fruit. Only that was a starter which looked like a clementine and tasted of chicken liver/foie gras and this is a pear which tastes of…well…A pear purée which surrounds a smack of something creamy. It’s sweet, refreshing and a visually strong dish which looks like a glazed artwork sitting in chocolate crumble on a flat, pure, white plate. The devil is in the detail which renders the most fun part of the dish the stalk; no longer than a centimetre long, it’s made of chocolate. It’s an elegant way to finish an elegant meal in an elegant location.

Contact Details

Address: 17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA

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