It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Andy Williams knew what he was talking about. What’s even better about this festive period are how different restaurants in London are creating special Christmas menus fit for any foodie.
Chi Kitchen, a pan-Asian restaurant and 2014 Masterchef winner Ping Coombe’s baby, located in the heart of Oxford Circus have done exactly that with a special Christmas menu. I’ve teamed up with The Halal City Life to review their Christmas menu. Want to know if it was a Christmas hit or a Mistle-no? Read on!
The Chi Kitchen Christmas menu is an attempt at fusing the classic Pan Asian cuisine with the good old Christmas cheer; their results have some interesting twists…
Left – Winter Vegetable Tempura, Right – Salt and Pepper Smoked Turkey
Salt and Pepper Smoked Turkey served with sweet chilli sauce – That’s right, salt and pepper turkey… A pleasant surprise with the traditional salt and pepper coating you would find on a calamari dish, but this time you are not greeted with the same strong taste and texture of squid. Instead, you find yourself nibbling away at the moreish turkey pieces, a subtle but enjoyable starter as the dinner conversations get underway.
Winter Vegetable Tempura served with orange ponzu- Now I’ve had veggie tempura before but this one was a little disappointing. The vegetables nor the tempura coating had any flavour, which was rather upsetting as I do love a bit of tempura, but after the strong tastes of the well seasoned turkey, we were left wondering why this dish was a little lacklustre. Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be inadequate, if anything it needs a little more TLC than the rest of the dishes.
Clockwise – Ma Por Tofu, Turkey Rendang, Salmon Teriyaki with Brussel Sprouts
Salmon Teriyaki with Brussel Sprouts – The teriyaki dish took slightly longer to arrive than the other mains as there was extra Christmas love given during the cooking (I believe they marinate the teriyaki sauce into the fish… or something romantic to that effect! Not a cooking expert here so couldn’t exactly comment on what exactly they did). A pleasant dish with strong flavours, good textures, it’s a classic you know you would enjoy (although the Jasmin rice needed some oomph). It reminded me very much of probably one of my favourite dishes of all time, black cod (I’m talking black cod at Cocochan!), so naturally I was sold!
Turkey Rendang – This is the Christmas jumper of the menu… Either you will love it or hate it. The Rendang spices were strong and vibrant, the aromatic and typical taste of the lemongrass pulls through so beautifully here, a twist to the typical much loved taste. The difference here is that you do not get the tender tasting beef you will be expecting, it’s turkey, which does not add much to the dish, in fact it is subtle and soft, which actually allows you to focus on the Rendang spices; An enjoyable dish that leaves you somewhat perplexed, but it’s Christmas, not everything has to make sense, just enjoy!
Ma Por Tofu served in a chilli bean sauce – The sauces and spices were as colourful as the dish, however when you then get to the tofu you feel there is something missing, something to really compliment the accompanying taste; almost makes it into the Christmas chart list, but not quite.
Chocolate brownie with Honey and Ginger Ice Cream – The brownie (the very rich and heavy brownie) did not have much flavour to it but it was complimented well by the chocolate sauce which gave it a pleasant taste. But there was surprise (its like your eccentric uncle who is a handful during the holiday season) – the honey and ginger ice cream. Opinions may differ about ginger ice cream, but there is one sure thing, it totally transformed the dessert and gave it a powerful kick which was weirdly a welcome arrival, you keep coming back for more… it’s those annoying Christmas songs you love to sing along to.
Chocolate sphere (not a Christmas menu item) – Rich, powerful, bitter, saucy, addictive and so chocolatey you almost can’t stop filling yourself with it. The chocolate was complimented by the more understated, less attention seeking ice cream which toned down the loud flavours, all in all it is a well-balanced and enjoyable dessert… and very Instagrammable. Unfortunately, we got a little excited about it and forgot to take a picture of the u demolished version! (#sorrynotsorry)
Left – Cha Boran Right – Chai Latte
Cha Boran – One of my favourite items from the night. A highly addictive drink with a brilliant balance, giving you a little kick of flavour whilst being soft and creamy which makes you want to take constant sips. It complimented the meal and enhanced all of the dishes, simply beautiful.
Chai Latte – As you would expect; strong, powerful and full of life. The cinnamon is strong, for those of who love these strong Asian spices you would enjoy this tea.
Chi Kitchen have made a decent attempt at bringing some festive spirt to their traditional menu. You notice the attempts at experimenting on dishes by replacing traditional meats with those more usually found during the holiday season. However, they could take it one step further and really throw the Christmas spirit (tinsel and all) at their dishes by adding more Christmas flavourings rather than substituting meats. All in all it’s a welcome present during the festive spirit and it’s worth adding a little Christmas sparkle to the classics, so do try it out.