Did you catch my London Eats post from a couple of weeks ago? It’s a review of Mango Tree, a pan Asian restaurant located inside the Harrods Food Hall. We were lucky enough to head back to Harrods for a second evening this weekend, where we enjoyed a feast of Japanese food from Pan Chai, the sister restaurant of Mango Tree. Situated in the opposite corner of the Harrods Food Hall, Pan Chai offers an incredible selection of sushi, sashimi, nigiri, Asian salads and hot dishes. Asian, in particular Japanese, is mine and Stew’s favourite cuisine. Having stalked their Instagram account thoroughly, we couldn’t have been more excited to travel across to West London on Saturday evening.
Pan Chai incorporates distinct flavours and ingredients from Asia, with masterful presentation, that stuns all of the senses. Each dish really has the wow factor, which can be so difficult to achieve in many restaurants. Clearly Pan Chai have taken the time to hire a selection of outstanding chefs and waiters/waitresses. The service we received and the high level of food we ate was second to none!
As we had picked the busiest evening of the week to visit, we had to wait a while for a spot to become available. To apologise for the hold up on our reservation, we were very kindly offered a glass of champagne each to enjoy… Only one of the most expensive champagnes I have ever had the pleasure of tasting – Dom Perignon. I had never seen it sold by the flute on a menu before. So it was a real treat to be able to sip on such an exclusive, high end champagne. (And for those interested, you can most definitely taste the difference. It was beautiful!).
Once seated around the bar of the kitchen, (Pan Chai is similar to Mango Tree in its design, just offering 20 seats or so in its small space), we were guided through the menu and the selection of dishes available. As our glasses were topped up, we made a couple of selections of our own but allowed the manager to recommend his favourites.
Luckily we were sat right in front of the chef who prepared our food so we were able to see the master at work! The precision and delicate fingers needs to produce the sushi rolls at Pan Chai is phenomenal. It’s truly a piece of art. I absolutely love my sushi, and having travelled Japan for a month, I feel I have eaten great sushi. However, Pan Chai comes a close contender to anything we enjoyed in Japan. It’s by far the best sushi and sashimi we’ve had in England at the very least.
For starters we snacked on deliciously warm and salt edamame (my favourite) and Stew ordered a cold sake. Good sake should be relatively tasteless, similar to vodka I guess, and this was most definitely good sake. It was so good in fact that I ordered one too!
To accompany our edamame beans, we enjoyed a watermelon and duck salad, topped with cashew nuts and coriander. Out of the warm dishes that we tried this was by far our favourite. The duck was perfectly cooked, and the hot sticky flavours worked effortlessly with the cooling watermelon and nutty cashews. This is a must for anyone heading to Pan Chai!
Afterwards we moved on to sushi and nigiri. The tuna belly stood out to us on the menu, as this is one of the few seafoods that we hadn’t had the chance to try in Japan, so we ordered this in nigiri form. Just look at the presentation above – stunning!
The manager asked if we had ever tried fried salmon skin, which we hadn’t, so after a couple of minutes he placed the plate below in front of us. This beautifully presented sushi roll, cut into 8 pieces, included fried salmon skin and spring onions, wrapped in seaweed and rice, with a spicy mayonnaise. This is a roll from the Pan Chai Signature Sushi Rolls. A little on the sweet side, but I particularly loved the mix of textures and flavours between the skin and spring onions. Stew found it too sweet, but of course we polished the plate off. There was no way I was leaving any behind! Although he found it sweet, we both agreed that we would 100% eat salmon skin again. In fact any type of fried fish skin. It’s really delicious and I like the fact that they use every part of the fish – no waste.
In addition to the salmon skin, we also chose the Harrods Special sushi roll. This consisted of fresh snow crab, avocado and spicy mayonnaise, topped with seared scallops, orange, black caviar and spring onions. I watched our chef make this one closely. They blow torch the raw scallops to sear them and expertly place the caviar on top. A truly incredible dish, and the addition of dry ice on the plate gives a fantastic effect. You will want to video this one as it arrives at your table!
To finish, we were offered a selection of shrimp, lobster and soft shell crab, plus a chicken teriyaki. The tempura has to be some of the lightest battered fish we’ve ever had. The batter itself melted in the mouth and the lobster and shrimp were cooked to perfection. I don’t know how they do this. It must be fried for quite literally seconds. Expertly done! The mixed platter was too much for just the two of us to finish, but I’m so glad we got to try a bit. I’m still dreaming of the tempura lobster – how indulgent!
Pan Chai offer exceptional cuisine with incredible dishes and only the very best ingredients. This is matched in the fantastic array of drinks, including champagne and sake, on offer.
For me, Pan Chai is a place for special occasions, as the price is (of course) a little higher than I would normally spend on dinner. I mean, it’s Harrods after all! But the price is worth every penny. It is by far some of the best sushi and nigiri we’ve ever eaten, only rivalled by that of the best restaurants in Japan! I would happily head back any time for the duck and watermelon salad and the Harrods Special sushi roll. Seriously, I have no words!
To view their full menu, click here.