Most restaurants are known for their signature dishes, and Mei Ume, the Chinese-Japanese hybrid that was recently opened in the Grade-II listed building – Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square is no exception – with it’s whole Peking Duck setting you back at £85, it’s definitely a dish that will grab attention and a great conversation starter.
Similar to the likes of Hutong at The Shard and Kai, Mei Ume cannot rely on the views like Hutong at The Shard, but it’s the food itself that gets the conversation starting. Run by Head Chef Tony Truong, the former Head Chef of Royal China, and Sushi Chef Mun Seok Choi, from Sake no Hana (St. James’s), they have created a menu to rival London’s Asian eateries.
As you walk inside the hotel, you’ll meet with a number of marble and fresh flowers, as we continued to walk into the hallway, I could smell the subtle scent of Jasmine. Mei Ume, was located just past the foyer and Rotunda Bar and Lounge.
There are wooden panels on either of the restaurant, which was designed by the legendary far-eastern designers – AB Concept. There was a use of mirrors in various places along with a number of antiques and china brought in from Japan and Hong Kong – giving a home-ly feel whereas the use of wooden panels gives it an ‘earth feel’.
As we walked inside the restaurant, we were greeted by the Restaurant Manager, Alan, who kindly welcomed us with some ‘welcome drinks’. We sat at the Mei Ume Bar, there was a long bar table and we could see the Sushi Chefs carefully preparing the dishes. The menu was designed by Head Bartender – Michal Maziarz offering a number of Asian-inspired cocktails that’s inspired by Chinese astronomy and a selection of sake, shochu and Japanese whiskeys. The creative menu incorporates sushi, sashimi and dim sum as well as a number of Chinese main course dishes, and the conversation starter – the traditional Peking Duck.
As the Peking Duck was the signature dish of the restaurant, it wasn’t a surprise for me to order the duck. I have always been a fan of Peking Duck, ever since the first time I have tried this slice of duck and some spring onions wrapped in a crepe-like pancake along with hoi-sin sauce in Beijing I have been in search for venues in London that offer something similar. I have found the restaurant in Min Jiang (LINK) and Kai London (the first Chinese restaurant in London to receive a Michelin star).
To begin, we ordered a Virgin Mojito and the “White Tiger Of The West” – made with Ketel One, umeshu sake, angostura bitters, ginger beer and grapefruit juice. It was slightly bitter, spicy with a hint of fizz.
So lets talk about the food…
We ordered the whole Peking Duck as it was the signature dish of the restaurant and it also served as two dishes – with the first ‘dish’ as a Peking Duck which is sliced and served with pancakes, cucumber, spring onions and the second dish shredded in salad with plum and lemongrass dressing.
I initially thought we were going to roll the duck using the traditional method with ‘crepe-like’ pancakes but instead we smothered the pancake with the hoi-sin sauce, followed by the spring onions and then a slice of duck. If you do prefer using the traditional crepe pancakes, you can request it with the staff.
I was slightly disappointed with the fact that the duck was brought to us at the table so we could inspect and “approve” (I suppose) the duck before it was sliced… except for the fact that the duck was not sliced in front of us. Once it was sliced, we were shown how to pile the duck up on the bread “Mei Ume” way – though but it didn’t feel the same as what I had expected.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it as I had hopes that I could be doing some ‘rolling’ but instead I was ‘piling’. But this isn’t to say the dish wasn’t good, in fact, it was quite the opposite with some unexpected disappointments.
The skin on the Peking Duck was crispy and the meat was tender, but that was also an issue, traditionally you would be able to take more of the crispy skin with a very small layer of the meat, but this time, I could taste more of the meat than the skin. This may be due to adaptation, in Western restaurants, you are likely to order a more meaty dish than something that is more greasy, so this could be reasoned.
As the Peking Duck wasn’t ‘rolled’ up, it can be a little ‘messy’ when you take a bite as the meat and leek was just piled on top of the bread. Again, this may be due to Western adaptation but this is also an alternative method of eating where you can actually see what you are biting into.
We also ordered Salmon Nigiri, O-Toro Sashimi, and Hot and Sour Soup. This was a strange combination but as the Peking Duck came as two dishes, we wasn’t sure whether it was ideal to order an extra main dish and having it wasted.
The O-Toro Sashimi wasn’t a disappointment, I really enjoyed it as it had the ‘fattiness’ one would expect and it didn’t taste ‘frozen’. The Hot and Sour Soup tasted reasonable, but I would want it more spicier, I could see a layer of chilli oil on top of the soup which was a clear indication that it is likely to be spicy but it was slightly too sour for my liking.
Here comes the dessert…
I wasn’t sure what to order as nothing seems to ‘stand out’ from the menu, so I trusted my gut instinct and ordered the ‘Chocolate Moelleux and Green tea Powder’. I wasn’t disappointed and this also reinforced my trust on instincts. The dessert I ordered was in fact a Molten Lava Cake with Matcha Ice Cream with a golf leaf.
It was luscious, and very comforting as this is one of my all-time favorite desserts but I was slightly disheartened that the chocolate (lava) wasn’t really oozing itself out. I have made this particular dessert myself several times and it can be frustrating to get the right balance, but I’m not a professional, just an enthusiast.
So this comes to the end of this review, and I know the question: “Is the Peking Duck from Mei Ume worth a visit?”
Well, if you are looking for a restaurant that offers a hybrid of Chinese and Japanese cuisine, located within a luxury hotel, close to good transportation a dish that takes a number of hours to marinate, air-dry and roast, a dish that has been modernized and styled towards the meatier side than greasy then my answer is “Yes”.
Don’t take my opinion as negative as I had visited the restaurant with certain expectations so it was a little disappointing on my side. But I do hope my opinion would be useful especially if you are planning to dine in Mei Ume for the Peking Duck.
📍 Mei Ume, Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, 10 Trinity Square, London EC3N 4A
💰 Average cost for two / Price range: £26 – £40
💳 What I paid: £100*