China Tang is perhaps the most suited Chinese restaurant for the celebrity favourite Dorchester hotel, which also hosts the three Michelin starred Alain Ducasse. The decoration at China Tang is royalty down to every corner, even the toilet cubicles were bedroom sized and each with its own hand wash basin. An abundance of traditional Chinese paintings, embroideries and furnitures took us back to the 30s Shanghai. Even the menu seemed royalty, lists of lobsters, scallops and abalones cooked different ways, each with an over £20 price tag. Shame the service and food quality didn’t live up to the expectations from the extravagant interior.
I contemplated on whether to write this post. The food wasn’t amazing and the scene was too pretentious. However, the interior was beautiful and potentially a great spot for business meetings where a grand scene is required. We didn’t try the abalones and lobsters which were clearly China Tang’s speciality. Instead, we settled with an overpriced dim sum lunch.
Scallop dumpling - £6.00
These scallop dumplings were shaped like siu mai rather than dumpling’s classic half moon shape. Apart from shape, it was odd to see a whole scallop placed on top since both dumpling and siu mai fillings should be fined minced. Flavour wise, it was quite bland even with some added chilli oil.
The bottom of these dumplings were pan fried perfectly with a crispy golden brown colour. The rest of the skin was sticky and a bit doughy but the pork filling was good. Overall, a well cooked dish but nothing amazing.
Roast pork puffs - £5.00
The flavours of these roast pork puffs were quite authentic with a balanced honey sweetness from the roast pork. However, the puff layer was so thin that it broke into flakes as I bit into it. The roast pork puffs at Royal China and Pearl Liang were tastier and cheaper.
Century and lean pork congee - £10.00
This century egg and lean pork porridge is available at every dim sum restaurant in China, but it’s rarely found in Chinese restaurants here. Traditionally we’d have dim sum for breakfast so porridge was a must have. The trend in London is to have dim sum in the afternoon since most chinese restaurants would serve dim sum between noon to 4pm. I guess this trend made porridge unpopular as most won’t remember porridge in the afternoon. It’s a shame because chinese porridge is delicious, normally with some form of meat or vegetable that would naturally season the rice. It’s excellent for settling our stomachs from alcohol or excessive eating (me me me). Century egg and lean pork porridge was the most common porridge to have with dim sum. Excuse my translation for Chinese readers, I had to translate this porridge name word by word.
China Tang’s porridge was strange as the rice grains were barely visible or tastable, like the rice was cooked then blended into a soup. Flavour was still good with the dotted pieces of century egg that many people find too strange to eat. I agree, it’s possibly an acquired taste that we grew up with. If you’ve never tried them, feel free to buy some from Chinese supermarkets.
Overall, the decoration at China Tang was grand and beautiful. Every corner sparkled with traditional chinese trinkets, even the bar looked like a 30s Shanghai bar. If you are looking for abalones, this was the place to go with various chinese cooking methods. However, the service and food didn’t match to the royalty like interior. Our food came so slowly it became a course based meal! We ate our dim sum one by one, then came the porridge, which completely countered the idea of eating stronger flavours of dim sum to balance the light porridge. Everyone was running around but none of the tables were served on time. Our next table even asked if they were under staffed. The response was simply an awkward laugh and a shrug. Three plates of dim sum and two bowls of porridge took us one hour to eat as they came one after another. Our bill came to £60, imagine if we had abalone or lobster. Although the flavours weren’t bad, it was completely overshadowed by the extravagant decor.