Chi Kitchen, London
Chi Kitchen is a pan-Asian (many different Asian cuisines under one roof) restaurant, wonderfully located on Oxford Street, a few minutes walk from Bond Street station. I am generally quite wary of restaurants who try to conquer too many types of cuisines at once.
However, we learnt that Ping Coombes, a fellow Malaysian and Masterchef UK 2014 winner, is the Executive Chef of Chi Kitchen. As Malaysians starved of authentic food from home, a common symptom of living abroad for too long, we were excited to see her Malaysian influence at just one glance of the menu.
Chi Kitchen is located on the Ground Floor of Debenhams on Oxford Street. This struck me as a bit odd at first but you can enter it from the street so essentially it feels like a stand alone restaurant. Its decor is simple, modern and clean.
We ordered two dishes for our appetizers: Roasted Wagyu Beef Puffs (£8.50) (pictured above) and the Dim Sum Platter (£11.95) (pictured below).
The puffs had a very authentic slightly sweet, crispy pastry. We loved that they were trying something different by using wagyu beef instead of the normal pork stuffing. The beef was tender and not dry. Definitely a good starter!
Our next appetizer was the Dim Sum Platter. The platter allowed us to try 5 different types of dimsum: prawn, prawn and chives, wagyu siu mai, normal siu mai and mixed seafood. I really enjoyed the wagyu siu mai, once again, in an interesting twist, this dish stood out. The prawn (har gou) had fresh prawn but the pastry wrap was a bit thicker than I typically prefer. The normal siu mai, mixed seafood and prawn and chives were delicious and authentic.
Next we moved on to mains, where we were really treated to a taste of home.
The Char Koay Teow (£9.95 - £16.95 depending on what ingredients you want) was one of the most authentic char koay teows I have had in the UK and outside of Malaysia. I would definitely come back for this. The chef of the night, Mr. Lee, came out to introduce himself to us during the meal, and told us he is from Penang so no surprises that his char koay teow was so good and full of wok-hei (that charred wok taste that is a signature of any good fried hawker food).
We also got to try their Seabass with Chilli and Lime (£17.95), which I expected to be the soupier and spicier Thai version. But it came with more of a reduced sauce drizzled on top of the fish. The fish was fresh and we enjoyed this dish.
The Roti (£4.95) turned out to be roti canai (or roti prata as non-Malaysians call it). I thought it was very fluffy, which is super important for roti canai. They also retained that nice oily finish to the dish, which is essential to any good roti. I quite enjoyed it and would order it again.
The Assam Prawn Curry (£12.95) had a really flavourful soup, and the prawns were fresh and not overcooked. The rest of my team thought, however, that it should have been more "assam" (sour) to be truly authentic.
The Asparagus with Teriyaki Sauce (£5.50) was fresh and an interesting combination, but was in a slightly smaller portion than I would have anticipated.
I had high hopes for the Chi Kitchen Katong Laksa (£13.95) because it is their signature and I absolutely adore Katong Laksa. Sadly though, I regret to say that the soup was too thick to drink more than 2 spoons of, and the noodles were not the thinner, slither-ier variety normally used in the Singapore Katong Laksa. The soup was also incredibly salty. But the flavour profile of the soup was somewhat along the lines of the Katong Laksa soup in Singapore - milky and slightly sour.
Of course, we also had to have some desserts. Chef Lee was kind enough to send out Sago Gula Melaka, a preview of something new to come for their new menu. It was incredibly authentic - a strong gula melaka layered with sago. My team absolutely loved this.
The Mango Creme Brulee (£6.95) was to die for. I've never tried mango creme brulee before but it was a good variant to the dessert. We were delighted with a very rich mango taste and it even came with a refreshing mango sorbet. YASSSS. Such a great way to end the meal.
We also ordered the Chocolate Sphere (£7.50) which was a gooey and rich chocolate sphere, with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce around it. A very indulgent dessert.
Overall, we have to say that Chi Kitchen's Malaysian influence is clearly prominent. It is exciting to see Malaysian cuisine becoming more represented in the UK, especially in such a central location in London such as Oxford Street. I would definitely return here for the Wagyu Beef Siu Mai and Puff, Char Koay Teow, the Prawn Assam Curry, and the desserts. They were really top notch and authentic.
Chi Kitchen Debenhams, 334-348 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1C 1JG, UK Open from Mon to Fri: 7:30AM - 11PM Saturday: 9:30AM - 11PM Sunday: 11:30AM - 10PM