By Lauren Jade Hill
On arriving at Mei Ume in the recently opened Four Seasons London at Ten Trinity Square, the space immediately leaves an impression, exhibiting both architectural grandeur and accomplished contemporary design reflecting the restaurant’s Asian influence. Taking its name from the Chinese and Japanese terms for plum blossom, Mei Ume brings the two nation’s distinct cuisines together with creative flair and culinary finesse.
Diversifying the luxury hotel’s culinary offering, the new restaurant joins French fine dining venue Le Dame de Pic and Rotunda Lounge and Bar. With the diversity of Mei Ume’s menu alone in mind, three chefs have been taken on for their specialist culinary expertise. Head chef Tony Truong, formerly of the restaurant Royal China, brings Cantonese inspired plates to the menu, while sushi chef Mun Seok Choi, who came over from Sake no Hana, exhibits his skills at the live sushi bar, and chef Derrick Chen, who previously worked at Hakkasan and Yauatcha, takes responsibility for the restaurant’s creative dim sum.
Here, authentic Chinese and Japanese dishes are created with a modern approach, from small plates such as Shanghai braised pork ribs to larger courses such as stir fried Dover sole with lemongrass and chili. The signature plate, whole Peking duck, is served two ways; first with pancakes, leeks and cucumber, then as a salad with lemongrass and plum dressing.
We started with the steamed dim sum platter comprising a champagne dumpling stuffed with scallop, classic har gau dumpling filled with pork and prawn, scallop siu mai and truffle wild mushroom dumpling. Encased in delicate pink, yellow and lime green dumpling wrappers, the dim sum are appealingly topped with silver and gold leaf, goji berries and tobiko caviar. Of the sushi on offer, we then opt for the Alaskan California crab uramaki which comes with avocado, tobiko caviar, vegetables and sesame seeds. But the yellowtail carpaccio with truffle ponzu makes a particular impression as the flavor of the truffle perfectly balances the citrus ponzu.
From the main courses, it’s the San Pei chicken that comes highly recommended as the classic claypot dish combining soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine is given an aromatic hit with Thai basil and chili. This comes with the Shanghai golden crispy seabass with asparagus and chili, which is complemented by a sweet lemon sauce. For each of these, a South African Chenin Blanc is chosen by the sommelier.
The restaurant’s wine list is curated by wine director Jan Konetzki, with an extensive choice of sake on the menu too, but dishes can also be complemented by cocktails that are inspired by the four elements of Chinese astronomy: the black turtle of the north, vermilion bird of the south, azure dragon of the east and white tiger of the west. Combining class cocktail recipes with Asian ingredients, each one comes in a unique ceramic drinking vessel to reflect its inspiration.
We finish the meal with the Japanese dessert iced mochi for which pounded rice dough is filled with matcha, mango, yuzu and coconut ice cream, with an accompanying chocolate dipping sauce. The moelleux chocolate molten cake then shows its Asian influence as it comes with a green tea powder. A selection of Chinese and Japanese teas can be paired with each one.
Hong Kong-based design firm AB Concept are behind the interiors here, having taken inspiration from the building’s former role as a gateway for merchants from the east and west. Ornate pillars create a divide between the bar and dining room, with distinct features such as a hand-embroidered silk screen and gilded artworks.
For a more exclusive experience, guests can reserve the 14-seat private dining space. Separated from the main restaurant with bamboo screen panels, this dining room provides privacy while simultaneously retaining the restaurant’s atmosphere.
To find out more, go over to meiume.com.