Review of Mei Ume – worth spending £85 on a roast duck?
Apart from a juicy steak, I don’t think there’s any other situation where I’d order anything off a menu that’s £85. But if you visit London’s latest posh Asian restaurant Mei Ume, I don’t think you can say no to their Peking Duck – even if it is at a pricey £85.
Located inside Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square, Mei Ume’s menu gives you authentic Chinese and Japanese dishes with a modern approach. The décor inside the restaurant mirrors this feel, as there are various pieces of antiques brought in from Hong Kong and Japan dotted around. Particular pieces to note are the wood panels at either end of the restaurant – one depicts a bustling Hong Kong market and the other shows an ancient Japanese fishing port.
As well as the artwork being impressive, the service is also undeniably good. From the moment you enter Mei Ume, you’ll be well looked after. The food menu will be fully explained to you and there’s even a sommelier to help you pair a drink to your choice of food.
As the Peking Duck is the signature dish of Mei Ume, it didn’t come as a surprise when I was recommended to try it. For £85 you get two dishes out of the whole Peking Duck: sliced and served with pancakes, cucumber, leek and then shredded in a salad with a lemongrass and plum dressing.
So whilst I tried to make a decision about parting with that amount of cash on just a roast duck, I ordered the Steamed Dim Sum Platter to fuel my brain.
This comes as a 4 piece for £9.00 or 8 pieces for £18.00 and consists of the following:
Mei Ume Champagne Dumpling
Scallop Siu Mai
Truffle Wild Mushroom Dumpling
For a dim sum platter, I’d say it was pretty good. My favourite was the Champagne Dumpling, I couldn’t taste where the champagne came in, but it was a nice seafood dumpling. The pastry for the Har Gau (prawn dumplings) had been coloured with beetroot juice, so that made it really pretty. The Scallop Siu Mai (prawn dumpling topped with scallops and tobiko caviar) was equally tasty. My least favourite was the truffle dumpling (coloured with spinach juice and topped with a goji berry) – personally, I felt the truffle was too overpowering so I would’ve been much happier if it was a plain wild mushroom dumpling.
I eventually decided to go with the Peking Duck, because I knew I’d find it hard to sleep that night if I didn’t! After I placed my order, the staff brought out a tray stand and placed it next to my table. I started to get excited, thinking the duck was going to be sliced in front of me. But much to my disappointment, this didn’t happen. They did bring the whole duck out for my inspection and approval, but it was taken back into the kitchen to be sliced up. You do then have the staff prepare the first “pancake” for you, but it’s not the same. Besides, who doesn’t know how to spread sauce over a bit of bread then pile on the meat and veg?
I dare to say, that having Peking Duck is the equivalent of having a Sunday roast – the excitement is seeing the one in the family who can be trusted with a knife, carefully carve off each slice. Mei Ume take note – you’ll have customers running back for your duck if you had the chef slice it at the table!
Taste wise, the Peking Duck was actually quite nice. Most of the pieces of skin were crispy as you’d expect and the meat was succulent. Mei Ume’s “pancakes” were flat versions of the white steamed buns, rather than the usual crepe like ones. So be warned that things can get pretty messy to eat as everything just falls apart. The accompanying sauce was made up of hoisin sauce, red bean, yellow bean paste and sugar – nice, fragrant and with a touch of sweetness. Rather than the usual spring onion, Mei Ume served their Peking Duck with leek instead, so as not to overpower the taste of the duck.
After I’d finished the duck with the pancakes, the duck salad was served. I really liked how refreshing the lemongrass and plum sauce dressing was, and the added pieces of fresh plums too. This was a good way to end the meal for me, but I’m not sure how it’d fit in if I’d ordered other cooked dishes from the menu.
So the million pound question: was the 2 course Peking Duck from Mei Ume worth £85? If you factor in the 4 hours to marinate, 8 hours to air-dry, 45 minutes to roast and then the whole shebang of presenting it into two courses inside a swanky posh restaurant – my answer is yes. But of course, this kind of luxury isn’t for everyone and there are cheaper alternatives out there. I did have a good time at Mei Ume, and I have to say special thanks to my friend who agreed to splash out on the duck with me! It’s very likely that I will return to Mei Ume so I can try out their other dishes, but only if it was a special occasion.
Address: Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, 10 Trinity Square, London, EC3N 4AJ
Phone: 020 3297 3799
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 12:30 – 2:30pm, 6:30 – 10:30pm, Closed Sunday