Park Chinois Is The Perfect Place To Celebrate The Year Of The Dragon – Review

By Tessa Dunthorne

5 months ago

There’ll be a traditional Lion Dance each night alongside Chinese Drumming. Oh, and the food is excellent. 

Looking to celebrate the Lunar New Year? Go to Park Chinois for dinner with a show. Tessa Dunthorne reviews one of London’s (and Instagram’s) favourite restaurants.

Is Park Chinois Still Good? Undoubtedly, Says C&TH

If you’ve ever gone to Wagamama and thought, ‘I wish this was more like a private members’ club – and maybe featured in the Michelin Guide’, then boy, do we have good news for you.

Once upon a time in 2015, the brain behind the Japanese chain of restaurants set about opening a Gatsby-esque, hedonistic dining concept: thus was Park Chinois born. Alan Yau, aforementioned brain and serial entrepreneur was of course no stranger to elevated dining. Among his list of achievements are restaurants Yauatcha and Hakkasan, and – although he has since exited both businesses – two Michelin stars (after he left the former, Yauatcha lost its star, perhaps precisely because his magic touch was removed).

Park Chinois, he told the Financial Times, was ‘old-school values versus new money; champagne rather than vodka.’ Its concept was live entertainment – Chinese inspired but featuring fresh jazz from talented house bands – to sit alongside glamorous dining. The interiors – think art deco Shanghai interiors meet European members’ club – were brought to life by the award-winning designer Jacques Garcia, whose career has been spent imagining beautiful spaces in Parisian hotels and restaurants. The head chef appointed was (and remains) Kin Min How, veritable dim sum wizard, who has worked across Camden’s Yum Cha and Hakkassan as it achieved its Michelin rating. As far as old money versus new, Yau has leant into the former by employing proven masters of craft for both these tricky arenas.

The first reviews for these space were, generally speaking, glowing. The Independent bandied it ‘a special-occasion indulgence like no other’, and Kathryn Flett at The Telegraph decreed it ‘worth every damn yuan’. AA Gill was less impressed, not loving the elements of fusion where Italian influence dripped into the Chinese menu. But those reviews all date back to 2016. So, how does it hold up in 2024?

It’s aged well, we think. Here’s why.

Park Chinois food

The service begins with the chef’s selection dim sum basket and these, Kin Min Hau’s specialty, are excellent showcases of his skill with fish. A prawn dumpling, for example, is the fattest juice-down-your-chin bite, while the scallop dumpling has the perfect texture (and is then topped by roe). These are also imaginative – and in particular point to where they’ve had time to find themselves. An Italian-inspired dumpling is a mature rebuttal of AA Gill’s criticism: this is genuinely brilliant, reimagining ravioli through the Chinese lens and then dusting it in truffle.

And they’ve stuck to the dishes that work – refined them and lifted them. The Duck de Chine is Park Chinois’ signature and you’d be remiss to not try it upon a visit. It features in every review, every TikTok and Instagram, and for good reason. The bird is marinated and basted and cooked over a 72 hour period. The end result of this labour of love is a bang-on pancake filler with the crispiest crackle of skin.

The mains proper are a juxtaposition of casual Chinese dishes given the A-lister treatment, a total joy of elevated fine-dining ingredients tossed into, for example, a stir fry. The particular standout is the 35-day aged ribeye steak that’s still bloody and tossed into the stir fry; a hard balancing act to prepare these two flash-in-the-pan dishes. 

Park Chinois dancers

Not to mention that, beyond the food, Park Chinois offers an entertaining night out. The ambiance in which you eat is cooler than cool. A jazz band plays modern takes on contemporary songs and the classics; they opt to ditch the upright bass in favour of an electric. And they’re totally dressed for the piece.

The interiors, too, are dressed up. Red velvet fringed curtains rink the room, and sofa booths allow you to snuggle up to dinner companions (should you wish to shrug off the formality of face-to-face). In a word, it’s sexy – and in two, it’s sexy and elegant – and there’s a naughty sense that you’re in a place you shouldn’t be, with all the implications of the low lighting. Not to mention that if one were to head downstairs, it’s much more upfront in the naughtiness: cabaret acts and burlesque are the evening entertainment for diners in Club Chinois. 

So, is this good in 2024? Undoubtedly – its tone, atmosphere and food makes Park Chinois an unmissable experience that isn’t just a plain old eaterie. 

Can You Celebrate Lunar New Year Here?

Park Chinois is celebrating the Year of the Dragon every night until Sunday 11 February with a traditional Lion Dance, alongside Chinese Drumming on selected evenings. See the schedule here.

Book It

Park Chinois, 17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA