A new restaurant in London China town? Yes please! Visit Orient London at Wardour Street, directly opposite the W Hotel. Did I hear people say the words ‘Jade Garden’? Apologies; it’s Jade Garden no more, but a refurbished and brand new restaurant called Orient London. Having closed for just under 2 months, I was very keen to see what the new restaurant looks like. I was given the opportunity to visit the site whilst it was near complete and I loved what I saw, as it was a public opening on Tuesday, I just had to visit and I wasn’t let down.
We walked inside the restaurant, as we already had a table for us on the first floor of the building, the staff members made us feel welcome and although we know the staff in the restaurant, they still made us feel like we are there for the first time after the refurbishment. Sitting on the first floor and at the balcony, we were able to look at all the other guests on the ground floor. The restaurant was already full by the time we arrived, and although the restaurant is smaller than before, it did appear to be more popular than it used to be.
Our waiter was attentive and made sure we ordered our food appropriately – by that I mean ensuring the meal was balanced, as the Chinese tend to order vegetables, meat and rice, so the meal is completely balanced. Of course, there is more to just the simple dishes ;however, the attentiveness of the staff members and number of times they checked in to ensure our tea was topped up and the plates were removed frequently in an un-disturbing manner was something I really appreciated.
The menu had a new look; the cover of the menu looks more modernised and more ‘classy’ than what it used to look like and the menu contained some of the old dishes, but with a number of new dishes to ensure guests have a newer perspective of the restaurant. The categories are balanced with Starters, Soup, Intermediate dishes, Barbeque, Chicken, Vegetables, Seafood and so forth. Written in both Traditional Chinese and English ensures the guests are able to order the correct dish, although it is very typical in Chinese and some Pan-Asian restaurants, I like the choice of font that is used on the menu as it isn’t ‘cheesy’ and very easy to read. There is also an extensive wine list for those who enjoy a glass or bottle of wine with their meals (we chose to have tea with ours). We tend to over-order when we visit restaurants; however, we had a few guests who joined us briefly so our order was perfect.
The restrooms were newly decorated and although it appeared a little smaller compared to what it used to be, you can tell the owner had spent time deciding on how to make the restrooms more ‘comfortable and modern’ looking than before. Having visited the restaurant a number of times before it was refurbished, I never enjoyed the experience as it was very old and rusty looking. However, now it has mirrors, adequate lighting and a faster more efficient hand drier, I am able to touch up when I visit the restrooms as the lights were brighter than before, the same goes for the men’s washroom.
In comparison to the other Chinese restaurants in China Town, the décor is more modern and sophisticated. Although the other restaurants’ may not have had a refurbishment in the recent years, the choice of decoration gives me the impression of a futuristic Chinese restaurant and the guests who were dining in the restaurant appeared to be more ‘classier’ than before – by that I mean the way the guests are dressed, considering it was only a Tuesday evening. I do not remember the last time where there was a table setting on the table of a Chinese restaurant where there was a placemat (having been to a number of high-end and Michelin starred ones, there were only ever chopsticks, folded serviettes and a plate that often gets taken away once I ordered my food (let’s not name them on this post!). But I like the setting a lot here.
We first had the Hot and Sour soup along with the Scallops with Vermicelli in Garlic and Spring Onions. I am an addict when it comes to scallops in shells, as I enjoy the garlic and spring onion that gets drizzled over along with the soy sauce. The scallops were fresh when compared to some other restaurants that I have visited before. In particular, I remember dining at a Chinese restaurant some time ago and although the dish looked freshly prepared, the scallops were in fact defrosted scallops. There was a generous amount of vermicelli and the scallops were large and steamed just right. I enjoy hot and sour soup as it always makes me feel prepared for the dishes to come, although the soup was a little sourer than I would prefer it to be. Nonetheless, it was deliciously appetising and it did not make me feel bloated before the mains.
The King Prawns with Honey & Black Pepper was a newly added dish that was recommended by the waiter. The dish looked a little bright in the photo however the king prawn is no ordinary king prawn dish that is simply fried; in fact, it was prepared and fried to-order and the honey and black pepper made the dish more comforting, as fried foods tend to cause the body to have ‘hot air’ (in other words heatiness) inside the heatiness inside the body (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, heatiness is an imbalance of the body and ‘heat’ can lead to irritability, spots, sore throat and as I had a sore throat, it was a relief to know that it contained honey so I wouldn’t feel as guilty to my throat). It was a sweet and peppery dish, the photo was taken after we ate a few pieces.
The Chicken in Szechuan style was a little different that what I had on my mind as I ordered the wrong dish; however, the dish looked a little simple but it was a little sweet and spicy. It may seem a little strange that I also ordered the sweet and sour pork dish, but it was the best sweet and sour pork dish that I’ve had in a long time. The reason is that the batter on the pork didn’t taste hard and it didn’t stick to the pork. Having visited a number of restaurants, I noticed that many of the same dishes were made in advance and when customers order the dish, it is re-fried in order to save time. The sweet and sour pork I tasted is definitely freshly made.
Perhaps an all-time favourite of the Chinese is the Stewed Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables. As I am from a Hakka family, I am very familiar with the taste of this dish as it reminded me of home (they always say home is where the heart is), as it was a popular dish, there will be variations in terms of pork belly size and how heavily vegetables are used. My verdict of the dish was that it was generously seasoned and the preserved vegetables didn’t take away the taste of the pork belly, although it contained a lot of sauce for the taste, the pork belly didn’t soak up the sauce and I was able to taste the meat and some of the fat on each piece. With every bite I book, I could taste the proportioned levels of meat and the silkiness of the fat.
Stir fried clams in black bean sauce was also dish we ordered. I enjoy the clams as it was a dish that I haven’t ordered in a number of years. I have to point out that every shell was opened. The reason for pointing something so simple out is because if the shell is not opened, it means the dish (or the clam itself) was not ready to be eaten and should be avoided. I have heard a number of stories where individuals have eaten unopened clams and felt unwell, whether it was proven or not it had left an image on my head for many years which was why I rarely order such dish. The dish was generous as there were plenty of clams to eat and each clam was perfectly coated with the black bean sauce.
We also ordered Chinese Broccoli (Kai Lan) with Garlic; I particularly liked this dish from Orient because for the first time, the ‘Kai Lan’ was not drenched and covered with garlic and sauce, in other words, it was not ‘swimming in the sauce’. I could see every piece of the vegetable and was able to taste the vegetable instead of it oozing sauce out. Overly cooked vegetables do not contain as much nutrients when compared to those that are cooked ‘just right’. The crunchiness of vegetable made me realise that it is actually very easy to overcook the dish. It is simple yet it takes the time to ensure it gets cooked properly without overdoing and making the vegetable ‘old’ (overdone). We ordered both Egg Fried Rice with spring onions and boiled rice to accompany our mains. We had a break before the desserts as we did order quite a number of dishes for the mains. But we wasn’t disappointed.
We are finally on the desserts! We ordered the Mango Cheese Cake, Pan Fried Red Bean Crispy Pancake with Coconut and the Green Tea Mochi with Azuki Bean. All three desserts are made in-house and are all newly added to the menu. I liked the Green Tea Mochi the most because the icing sugar that was dusted over each mochi ensured it was covered evenly and not rolled on some icing sugar. The Mango Cheesecake was very velvety and I enjoyed the biscuits at the bottom; it really kept me eating until I reached the bottom and by the time I reached the biscuits, it was almost finished. The Pan Fried Red Bean Crispy Pancake with Coconut was a delicious end, as it was crunchy and contained a delicious amount of red bean inside.
By the time we left just after 10pm, there were still customers entering the restaurant, which was a pleasant sight as previously, there was hardly any customers in the restaurant alone – never mind at 10pm. I believe the newly refurbished restaurant has changed the restaurant from dull, old and backwards looking to a welcoming and modern restaurant. I enjoy the use of chrome colours as it has livened up the restaurant. The previous use of the colour red made it look ancient. The wall of wine bottles at the end of the restaurant gives off this luxury yet laid back feeling as you walk down the stairs. Although the restaurant is in fact smaller, it doesn’t feel clustered with near-empty tables, but as a matter of fact, the restaurant was full during the whole time of my visit. I highly recommend Orient London to anyone who is visiting London China Town for a Chinese meal but whom also prefer a laid back fine-dining atmosphere.
Here is a list of the dishes we ordered:
Hot and Sour soup
Scallops with Vermicelli in Garlic and Spring Onions
King Prawns with Honey & Black Pepper
Chicken in Szechuan style
Sweet and Sour Pork
Stewed Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables
Stir fried clams in black bean sauce
Chinese Broccoli (Kai Lan) with Garlic
Mango Cheese Cake
Pan Fried Red Bean Crispy Pancake with Coconut
Green Tea Mochi with Azuki Bean
Ti Kuan Yin
Find Orient London:
15 Wardour Street, London W1D 6PH