Address: 17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA
Phone: 020 3327 8888
Decor: 4.5 stars
Ambience: 4 stars
Food: 4 stars
Value for money: 3 stars
Service: 5 stars
Overall: 4 stars
Ground Floor Restaurant. NHYM 2016.
Park Chinois is located on the golden square of restaurants: Berkeley Square. It all started with Nobu about 10 years ago who replicated its twin in the Met into a more ‘cool’ happening place. And thus began the domino effect of high end, luxury, and super expensive restaurants: Hakkasan, Novikov, Sexy Fish and finally Park Chinois. And Berkeley Square’s members club are also high in demand: Annabel is having a makeover, the Arts Club just recently opened its hotel and there is a new ‘business’ member’s club which also recently opened. But back to Park Chinois.
Park Chinois is a ‘lifestyle’ (his words, not mine), dinner and dance experience by Alan Yau, the man behind Hakkasan, Yuatcha and Wagamama. Now, perhaps you could think that there are enough iterations of high end Chinese restaurants, but not Mr. Yau. Here, he has upped the luxury game and created a £16 million + place to compete with the opulence next door of Sexy Fish. From what I gather, Park Chinois divides people: you either love it or hate it. I went for the third time last Wednesday to make sure I knew which camp I was going to root for.
Lounge Singer. NHYM 2016.
When you walk into Park Chinois, it successfully takes you to bygone years of dinner & dance, louche Chinese clubs from the 20s and 30s, where everything is opulent and where affairs, business and otherwise, happen in dim light. Upstairs, there is live music, whereas downstairs is the Park Chinois ‘Club’ where the lighting is dimmer and it is the cooler version of the two with club music playing in the background. The favourite colours of this place are decidedly gold and red, and it is everywhere. Every detail is so thought out from the lampshades to the the corniced ceilings.
The Menu. NHYM 2016.
Since I’ve been here three times, I can safely say that I have tried the food thoroughly. The first time I came, it was in a large group with a pre-set menu which included a good sampling of the menu. The Duck de Chine, their famous roast duck, comes at a cool £85 and requires some advance notice. It was good – don’t get me wrong – but frankly, I could get a similar, or better version of it at Gold Mine on Queensway. The other dishes were also good: the fried squid, (which tasted more like batter than squid), the vermicelli clay pot (one of my favourite dishes there), and the dim sum and gyoza were all very good, but again, I could get them at Royal China, also on Queensway, for a third of the price.
Chilli squid with green papaya salad. NHYM 2016.
I have to write a special note about the service at Park Chinois; it is really excellent. I have trouble eating at Chinese restaurants because of soy and MSG intolerances and each time I have been the waiters have been really excellent at discussing all my options with the chef. For me, it is one of the standout features of this place.
I am definitely in the more-love-than-hate category when it comes to Park Chinois. But, it is true that the restaurant was not full on a Tuesday, whereas Sexy Fish next door was heaving. There are no windows in the whole restaurant and one friend thought it felt like a cruise ship, with its lounge singer and draped curtains on the ground floor, but I still like it even though I prefer the downstairs. I have to give it a lot of credit for what it is trying to do; bold, dreamy and different. And I love that London is a place where risks are taken to create places like this. It is a great place for those who love Hong Kong and yearn for a little nostalgia of bygone years. For the food, you could always go to Queensway.