Multi-Coloured Dim Sum & Szechuan Cocktails: We Visited St. James's Luxurious Chinese Restaurant

It was a buzzing Friday night in Central London, and it also just so happened to be my boyfriend’s birthday so, after a quick celebratory pint at a nearby pub, we headed to Gouqi in St. James's. This luxurious Chinese restaurant is led by chef Chee Hwee Tong, who has an illustrious career working at some of Asia's and London's best restaurants, including Hakkasan. With such an impressive culinary background behind him, I couldn't wait to see what he had in store at Gouqi.

Gouqi London Menu Review | DesignMyNight

All of the food on the Gouqi menu was beautifully presented.

Found just off Trafalgar Square, this joint was right in the thick of it, so much so that we had to weave our way through clouds of tourists on our way in. But, when we made our way through its doors, we were met with a calm, relaxed restaurant that offered a sanctuary from Central London's notorious hustle and bustle. Snazzy and intimate, without being pretentious in any way, the venue was adorned with colourful Chinese lanterns descending from the ceiling mixed with cool, neutral tones, which spread from the leather banquette seating to the marble-style floors.

We of course had to begin the evening with a couple of cocktails; I opted for the Jade Rabbit (£18), a very refreshing number made of ABA pisco, agave, green Chartreuse, with fruity, herbal notes of lime and fragrant Thai basil. On the other side of the table, my date ordered the Shishi (£19), Gouqi’s signature martini cocktail which combined Roku gin, Szechuan pepper, fino sherry and peach. Sadly you couldn't really taste the Szechuan, sherry or peach - it was very heavy on the gin, which overpowered everything else.

Gouqi Westminster Review Chinese Restaurant | DesignMyNight

One of our favourite dishes from the Gouqi London menu? The Iberico char siu with salted egg yolk.

While we tipped our cocktails back, the supreme royal dim sum platter (£43.50) arrived in a bamboo steamer - when it opened, a warm waft of air made way for the most unique dumplings I've ever seen. This multicoloured and seriously pretty spread featured flavours like black truffle, XO king crab, yam and goji berry, morel mushroom and octopus, with a Shanghai xia long bao, plus a pork and prawn siu mai with abalone thrown in too. There was even a beancurd dumpling topped with gold leaf that was quite the showstopper. Each dumpling wrapper came in a different, vibrant colour, and was so delicate and perfectly steamed, filled with huge slabs of meat and incredible amounts of flavour. We also tucked into the five spice crispy chicken with Thai basil (£16.50), a generous bowl of beautifully fried chicken that somehow remained oh-so-juicy inside despite the crispiness of the outer layer.

After polishing off our starters, we then moved on to their signature dish: honey-glazed iberico char siu with salted egg yolk (£28.50). The fattiness and sweetness of the char siu married so well with the thick, rich yolk, which was nestled in the middle of each slab of pork. We were also recommended the Angus tenderloin beef with black pepper sauce (£43) – but this was the bougiest version of this classic dish you could imagine. Thick, juicy cuts of beef melted in our mouths, slicked in a flavoursome black pepper sauce, which we scooped up alongside mouthfuls of the fresh scallop egg white fried rice with XO sauce (£31.50). Featuring a mix of both boiled and crisped-up rice, with chunks of delightfully fishy scallop, this offered a strong medley of flavours and textures that we couldn't stop raving about. Everything went so well with our delicate bottle of Tinta Barocca, Momento (£100), a red from South Africa that was the perfect balance for our meat and fish-based dishes.

Gouqi Chinese Restaurant London Review | DesignMyNight

Gouqi London is the high-end Chinese restaurant that's ideal for special occasions.

After such a tour de force of dishes, we couldn't wait to try out the dessert menu. We decided on the Dragon's Kiss (£14.20), an absolutely stunning dessert that really blew us away. Made with yuzu, dragon fruit and cherry blossom, it had a sweet, vibrantly pink outer layer and a tangy soft cheese centre; it was everything you want in a dessert - beautiful, flavoursome and unctuous. Not one to shy away from chocolate, we also couldn't pass up the Gouqi Valley (£14.80), which was seriously indulgent. Think a rich, fudgy chocolate base topped with a swirl of matcha cream and a scoop of what seemed like goji berry sorbet - phwoar.

The DesignMyNight Digest

Though there was a bit of a rocky start with the cocktails, Gouqi more than made up for it in the food department. Each dish was a celebration of Chinese flavours while remaining creative and unique - I couldn't fault a single bite. Also hats off to the lovely service, especially the manager Jeffrey who really looked after us throughout our meal. So, if you want to try an upmarket Chinese restaurant on a special occasion, definitely give Gouqi a go.

  💰 The damage: £312 for two, excluding service charge.

  📍  The location: 25-34 Cockspur Street, St. James's, SW1Y 5BN.

  👌 Perfect for: Date night or fancy family meals.

 ⭐ Need to know: The menu changes regularly with the seasons, so you can always expect something new here.


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