For some reason lately, Tuesdays seem to have become a bit of a ‘dinner date’ night.
By that, I mean that I’ve eaten out the past three Tuesdays. Which basically makes it a ‘thing’, right? Definitely needs a catchy name though. And a hashtag. Tweet me your best suggestions…
Last week, the restaurant we were checking out was Chi Kitchen, for a post-work, January blues-defeating Pan-Asian feast. And ‘feast’ is definitely the appropriate way of describing the amount we ate…
The London branch of Chi Kitchen is tucked away at the bottom of Debenhams Oxford Street (with another Debs-based branch in Birmingham), but this is way different to the usual department store cafe eats. Definitely a standalone restaurant in it’s own right, Chi Kitchen is cosy and welcoming, a far cry from the usual department store cafe offerings.
Executive Chef and former Masterchef winner Ping Coombes has created a menu that combines the best of Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean food. So many good kinds of food, basically.
The best way to try a new restaurant? Ordering loads of dishes to share, obvs. Which is exactly what we did.
I never really thought I liked shrimp all that much. Something that totally changed when I visited New Orleans and had a po boy stuffed with delicious, crispy fried shrimp-y goodness. We were recommended the Popcorn Shrimp (£6.95) as one of our starters and it turned out to be one of my faves of the day. And considering I don’t have a lot of love for wasabi, I had a huge amount of love for the wasabi mayonnaise it was served with – it took a lot of the sharp heat from the wasabi that I usually can’t deal with, and went perfectly with the shrimp.
To feign a vague pretence that we were engaging in any kind of January healthy eating whatsoever, we ordered the Duck and Watermelon Salad (£4.50) to go with our deep fried starters. Doing it right. And this is one hella good salad. The duck was wonderfully aromatic and crispy. I’m not big on watermelon usually, but it went so well with the richness of the sauce, and I gobbled this down almost quicker than you can say ‘New Year’s Resolution’. £4.50 for a decent sized salad is also pretty good value!
Unfortunately, the Salt and Pepper Baby Squid (£6.50) didn’t live up to the amazing standard set so far. It wasn’t as crispy as I’d have liked, and the flavour seemed a little lacking. If you’re choosing between this and the Popcorn Shrimp, I’d 100% go with the shrimp.
And finally, what kinda Asian restaurant experience would it be if we didn’t grab some sushi? The Chi Kitchen Roll (£9.50) has great flavours, is well made, and tasted really fresh. A sizeable portion, it’s definitely enough for two to share with a couple of extra side dishes.
Sea bass is one of my favourite fish dishes. And Chi Kitchen serve it up Asian Fish and Chips style (£18.95), with a chilli and lime dressing packing plenty of heat. And it was AWESOME. The fish was super light and the dressing gave it a whole new taste in a way I’d never experienced my beloved sea bass before.
We also grabbed a plate of the Chicken Katsu Curry (£14.95) to share. It arrived differently to how I’d expect, with the breaded chicken on the plate and Japanese curry and steamed jasmine rice in bowls alongside it. Which resulted in lots of dipping, mixing and enjoying the tasty flavours on offer. Not overly spicy, the curry was rich and just the right thickness.
Steak is pretty much a fixture in as many of our dining out experiences as possible. Steak is great. And Chi Kitchen’s Korean Steak (£19.95) is no exception. The steak itself was a tender slice of sirloin, and the Bulgogi sauce (made from soy, garlic, green onion and sesame ingredients) was rich and gave a delicious oriental twist to the meat. And the chive mash and tender broccoli definitely served as a perfect accompaniment to the dish.
The dessert menu at Chi Kitchen is pretty streamlined – obviously, I wanted to try their Chocolate Sphere (£7.25). If you’ve read my enthusing over the Snickersphere I had last year, you’ll know why. Brought to our table and melted down in front of us while I frantically tried to get my Instagram story to work, this is definitely a dessert to impress with.
We picked three of the ice cream flavours on offer (£3.50 for two scoops) – Salted Caramel (standard me), Green Matcha Tea (attempt to experiment) and Cornflake (yes, this is a thing). I did feel they could have offered a bit more in terms of flavour as they were a little on the bland side. Oh, and by the way, cornflake ice cream? Turns out it basically tastes like the milk left in your bowl after your Kelloggs breakfast. Which was surprisingly enjoyable…
Obviously if you’re going for your dinner there, you probably won’t order up as many dishes as we did. You’ll probably manage the walk to Bond Street station across the road a lot easier than I did after everything we ate too…
The range and variety of flavours on the menu is fantastic, and apart from the squid, I really enjoyed every dish. Favourites being the popcorn shrimp, sea bass and the duck and watermelon salad. Seriously, when I say a salad’s a favourite dish, you better know it’s pretty awesome.
There’s a good range of prices on the dishes, so depending on what you go for, the meal can either be an affordable treat or an all-out blow-out. The creativity and quality of the food really impressed me, and I’ll definitely be heading back in future for another as-yet-unnamed Tuesday night dinner tradition.
Ground Floor Debenhams, 334-348 Oxford Street, W1C 1JG
020 3841 6888
*Meal complimentary, thoughts my own (and sometimes Conor’s…)