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Kai (Restaurant)

Picture of Kai in Mayfair, London

65 South Audley Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 2QU
Cuisine: Chinese
Tel: 020 7493 8988 | Email to Kai | Transport: Bond Street | Write review

Kai Review

Kai is featured in these Guides:

My preconceptions of Michelin-starred restaurants meant that even before I had got to the restaurant I was expecting to leave hungry, and that I would probably look scruffy next to the immaculately dressed people who dine there. I expected tiny portions of intricately composed food; plates drizzled with the smallest amount of expensively sourced sauces; hushed whispers and smart businessmen with creased collars and million pound deals on the verge of being signed; and I expected to spend a hefty amount at the end.

What I got from Kai, an established top end one-Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in Mayfair, wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

The Kai restaurant in Mayfair has a long list of recently acquired accolades. It was granted a star in the UK Michelin Guide, 2009. It was voted Best Chinese Restaurant in the Harden’s Restaurant Guide 2009. It has a whole host of other recommendations and acknowledgements in London guides and beyond, including featuring as the Critic’s choice in Time Out.

I checked the menu online beforehand. It consisted of somewhat pretentious sounding dishes (‘Mermaids in the Mist’, essentially, a Chilean sea bass miso soup); an extensive wine list from every region worth mentioning, and a few that aren’t, with prices stretching from the reasonable to the absolutely astronomical; and the questionable and controversial addition of shark fin to Kai’s signature soup.

When we arrived, by cab, we almost missed the restaurant. Hurtling down the road, ignoring road signs as only black cabs do, we shouted at the driver to stop when we spotted the startlingly bright Kai restaurant front. The venue was clearly classy. Fish tanks lined the far walls and the smiling friendly staff offered to take our coats as soon as we entered. Modern and refined, the actual restaurant was nothing out of the ordinary or spectacular. However, the dishes suggested to us by the manager were nothing short of breathtaking.

We sampled Kai’s signature starter, Wasabi King Prawns, deliciously plump and juicy, flavoured with a delicate kick from the creamy wasabi mayonnaise. We also pulled the legs from a sumptuous soft-shelled crab. Both dishes were fair portions – not, thankfully, the tiny portions I had been expecting – but flavoured in such delicate and interesting ways so as to not overwhelm the palette before the mains.

Our sommelier, a friendly, toothy grin of a man, suggested we wash the food down with a bottle of Spy Valley Riesling, a perfect accompaniment to the slightly spicy seafood.

The main dishes were more of the same – astonishingly accomplished plates, with subtle flavours that complimented each other. We guzzled thick chunks of tender sirloin Buccleuch beef, flavoured with black pepper and garlic, and served with crunchy Chinese croissant and broccoli. However, the definitive dish of the night was the Chilean sea bass. Served in two snow-white lumps in a pool of ginger, spring onion and soy sauce, the wonderfully moist fish needed no frills. Each dish was substantial, full of character and marked by the chef’s obvious flair.

As the night wore on the restaurant grew increasingly busy. Evolving from what was a meeting place for stiff-lipped business men, the restaurant suddenly breathed life, and at ten o’clock, as we were tucking into our final course, the tables surrounding us were filled by people visiting to enjoy the succulent delights of the menu.

So, as for my expectations. I expected to leave hungry. Well, I certainly didn’t. With such an array of food in generous portions, myself and my guest certainly left feeling satisfied, but not overwhelmed. I expected intricately composed food and expensive ingredients. Which is what we got – tantalising, exquisite flavours all prepared with the utmost care. I expected the smart businessmen, who were there, hunched over steaming plates of egg fried rice, along with the parties of youngsters; the people who had just left from work; the couples enjoying a romantic meal out. I expected to pay a hefty amount, and we did, but for food so passionately prepared and served in a friendly manner, it’s money worth parting with.
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Customer Reviews for Kai

Average (based on 2 votes): 2 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Kai.

“This is a once a year experience. And what an experience! The food is lovely, the service is friendly and accommodating and the ambience is one of class. Because of the hefty price tag, this is somewhere I only go on special occasions - birthdays, bar mitsvahs, anniversaries. For Chinese food served with panache, this place may not live up to its rivals Hakkassan etc, but it's almost there.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Claire Williams, Southgate (9 years 6 days ago)

“We went a few years ago and we were really happy about this restaurant thinking it was the best chinese ever eaten although expensive. Their quality of food was excellent. We decided to go back few months ago, and the dishes were not as nice as years ago. The quality of food has gone down dramatically and we would not go back.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
emyrich, london (10 years 10 months 18 days ago)

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