In the London hotel scene, one of the most famous institutions, The Dorchester, is normally associated with English tradition - afternoon tea, sparkly chandeliers and door men with red coats and top hats. Restaurant wise, these kind of hotels with such old-school grandeur have almost always got a celebrity chef at the helm serving the best of British (or wherever they are from).
At the Dorchester though, while it does have all of the above, including the Alain Ducasse restaurant, which has an awe-inspiring 3 Michelin stars, our recommendation is for China Tang, a subterranean Chinese food lovers’ paradise, or more specifically, Cantonese.
As expected from a restaurant in the Dorchester, the decor is opulent and flamboyant, with Chinese embroideries, lacquered paintings of strange little child emperors on the walls and lashings of gold everywhere. Even the toilets are huge, black marble and each cubicle big enough to house a small family.
For a pre-dinner aperitif, stop off at the 1930’s art deco bar, with its range of out of the ordinary cocktails with extraordinary names. You won’t find any of the “normal” cocktails on the menu, although the barman can make you up anything if you flutter your eyelashes!
Once you have ordered, the food doesn’t all come out together because it is served as it is cooked. The downside of this is that in larger parties, you will all be fighting for a mouthful of each dish, the upside; that you know it is freshly made to order. And not to mention delicious. Whichever review you read praises the Peking duck and it really is quite something. Not only does it taste incredible but it is presented beautifully, fanned out in strips as opposed to the hacked to death, sorry shredded duck you get at your local take away Other recommended dishes include the salt and pepper squid, stir fried beef with black bean sauce, the soft shelled crab and the huge, juicy steamed prawns with garlic. If you are feeling particularly flush, the birds’ nest soup is £60 or there is whole suckling pig and seafood hotpot for two priced at £150!
China Tang also has a light-hearted side and on the website has a list of things not to do when running a Chinese restaurant called “how to murder a Chinese”. Items include not serving dishes called Chop Suey which doesn’t exist in true Chinese cooking, or “having a menu as long as the Great Wall of China!”
China Tang at The Dorchester
53 Park Lane
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7629 9988