My rather indecisive boyfriend has always said that one of the things he admires the most about me is that I know my own mind. I form views on things quickly and in the words of Britney, ‘I tell ’em what I like, what I want, and what I don’t’. However, give me a choice of what I fancy to eat and I often find it really tough to decide what I want to stick with. I was totally the girl that would go to all you can eat buffets and load up her plate with a gap year’s adventure worth of food, not caring what cuisine it came from or what went together.
Now that nights at all you can eat buffets are a thing of the past, I’m generally forced to pick a cuisine and stick to it – tough, right?
However, I think I may have found my saviour in the form of Asian fusion restaurant Chi Kitchen. Not only that, but it gets total bonus points for being located just off Oxford Street, an area where I admittedly feel a little lost as to where to eat that won’t be catering to the tourist crowd. You’ll have to stick with me when I say it’s located on the ground floor of Debenhams (albeit with its own entrance from the street) – this is food that transcends its department store location.
Invited to try out their food we were greeted by Angela, the restaurant supervisor, and her lovely team who showed us to a booth and got us settled in with the drinks menu. We chose a classic Mojito and a Raspberry Dream (vodka, Chambord, strawberry, raspberry puree, lime juice, pineapple juice and mango juice) to sip on while we watched the chefs buzzing in the open kitchen.
Angela talked us through the food menu which comprises a selection of sharing platters, sushi, sashimi, small plates, dimsum, large plates and items from the grill and features Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean cuisines. In particular, there is a focus on Malaysian dishes as Ping Coombes (winner of Masterchef 2014) has been appointed as Consultant Chef of Chi Kitchen. Dishes from her book, Malaysia: Recipes from a Family Kitchen, now feature on the menu.
In line with the fusion nature of the menu, we decided to mix up our order, starting with the Chi Kitchen Roll, a selection of California-style rolls – prawn, tuna and salmon – served up with a decorative flourish of dry ice. Although I was allowed one, they were mostly polished off by my boyfriend, he loved them.
Whereas I went with the Aromatic Duck Spring Rolls, which were good but lacked a hit of that fresh clean cucumber taste that usually balances out the richness of the duck and hoi sin sauce.
One of Ping Coombe’ signature dishes – Spicy Minced Chicken and Lemongrass Parcels – were on the menu as a special dish for September and were brought for us to try. Served up on lettuce leaves, these little parcels of chicken, prawn and vegetables could be as spicy or mild as you wanted, depending on how much of the mouth-tingling sauce you added.
Also brought over for us to sample was the Wagyu Beef Kushiyaki. Beautifully tender beef was skewered together with asparagus and marinated in a sweet soy sauce, it was a dish that took me mentally back to Japan and the last time I had skewers, in a small izakaya in Tokyo specialising in pork called Tonko. Isn’t that the best thing about food?! It’s ability to take you somewhere else.
For a main, my boyfriend chose the Sea Bass with Chilli and Lime together with a side of Grilled Asparagus with teriyaki sauce. The sea bass was beautifully presented and had a good kick from the chilli.
I went for a good old Thai Green Chicken Curry, not a revolutionary dish but a good solid staple and one which was done well.
I was very much in a raspberry mood the day we visited Chi Kitchen (perhaps it was the fact that they were in season) and so I chose a Raspberry Chi Kitchen Kir Royal to accompany my meal. It was a good choice, but all of the drinks we tried were great.
Although we were pretty full after all of that, we decided to just have a peek at the dessert menu. Of course, a peek was enough to convince us that we might just be able to squeeze in desserts. My boyfriend ordered the mango creme brûlée with ice cream. Deeper than some creme brûlées, it could have easily been super sickly but it wasn’t too sweet, which was ideal.
I was stuffed to the brim and could only manage ice-cream and so ordered a scoop of coconut and a scoop of mango ice cream – both packed full of flavour and completely what I needed to finish off a wonderful meal.
The word Chi means energy in Chinese and we certainly felt that energy from the entire team at Chi Kitchen, who made us feel unbelievably welcome and we enjoyed a great meal within the calming balanced surroundings, light years away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street which lies only metres away. Head in via the entrance on Henrietta Place and you’ll never know you’re sat in a department store. Currently there is a Chi Kitchen in the Oxford Street store and also in Birmingham, so if you’re Midlands-based then there’s no need to miss out!
Our meal was provided on a complimentary basis but the views expressed here are my own unbiased opinions. Thanks Chi Kitchen!