As far as I’m concerned, there’s fewer things quite as British as Harrods. It’s right up there with afternoon tea, Buckingham Palace, The Ritz and mushy peas. But the luxury shopping mecca isn't just renowned for its designer dresses and stunning jewellery, its eclectic food offerings also draw in the masses. I had come to visit its newest restaurant, Bao Kitchen, to put some of its 'authentic Asian street food' to the test.
Having recently opened this summer, the spot is tucked away on the fourth floor, past glamorous kidswear and sparkly ball gowns that cost more than a year’s rent. The dinky diner is simply decked out with space grey leather banquettes and chairs, blossom-tiled walls and a central bar. Futurist focal lights are the main decorative aspect, reminding me of something from a noughties music video and filling the room with a white glow.
The menu is a maze of bao buns, dumplings, rice bowls, grills and noodle dishes, each one reading as good as the next. A little uncertain of portion sizes, we started off with a guaranteed winner, the roasted Bejing style duck with hoisin sauce and cucumber bao (£12), which brought all the classic flavours of a duck pancake to the fluffy bun. The prawn dumplings with truffle oil (£11) featured sizeable shavings of the gourmet nuggets and made my truffle-loving heart rejoice. Authentic street food? Perhaps not. But I wasn't about to bite the truffle hand that feeds me.
I was a little wary about the wasabi prawn tossed with wasabi tobiko kewpie mayo (£15), remembering past times of eye-watering encounters with the condiment. However, mixed with mayonnaise, I only got a vague hint of the spice without having to worry that my tongue might explode. However, I couldn't quite wrap my head - or chopsticks - around the unusually crispy and fiddly noodles that accompanied them.
Onto mains and I took our waiter's steller recommendation of the wan tan hor noodles (£26). Loaded with scallops, crab and mammoth-sized prawns within an indulgent seafood gravy, the bowl was delicious, rich as hell and seriously filling. Accompanied by a Christmas turkey bao (£12) - a little too sweet for my liking - and grilled tenderstem broccoli (£8.50), we really had outdone ourselves.
Overall, it was the drinks that seriously won this spot over for me. A bit of a wine novice, I opted for a glass of red Chateau Bergeron (£12.80) to offset the wintry chill, which did its job wonderfully. My seasoned vino pro dinner date, however, chose a white I'd never heard of before - a Gewurztraminer (£14). Its spicy and fruity aroma apparently makes it a great partner for Asian dishes, and it really was.
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If you're looking for an indulgent day of window shopping in a world-famous landmark, then, by all means, Bao Kitchen is definitely in keeping with the whole Harrods experience. However, if you're searching for equally delicious Asian food at a fraction of the price then, I hate to say it, but I'd have to recommend one of Chinatown's numerous restaurants. Whilst you might not get truffle-laden dumplings and fine wine, you'll make up for it with truly authentic cuisine and cosy settings.
Bao Kitchen is on the fourth floor of Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL.