Many Chinese New Years ago, Saffy Girl and The Prodigal Fool used to enjoy the occasional dinner at Mao Tai together. These were special treats because Mao Tai has always been pricey but, back then, it used to be worth every penny. No longer.
It’s still one of our locals and, truth be told, it’s still one of our favourites but nowadays your best bet is to focus on the great cocktails in the bar and accompany them with a selection of starters rather than spend time and money in the restaurant at the rear.
Don’t get us wrong, the food is not bad. It’s just that it’s not as special as it once was and, at prices like these, it needs to be. On a recent visit we sampled a very mixed bag. The spare ribs and grilled dumplings were as fresh tasting as ever but when the main courses arrived things started to get decidedly inconsistent.
The crispy shredded beef with carrots and chili was great: sharp and interesting. Beef in black bean sauce was chewy and rather bland. The chicken with ginger and cashew nuts was just plain dull. And, the worst of the lot, the cod with miso marinade smelt and tasted way too fishy for our liking. It left us craving Eight Over Eight or Nobu.
Back in the day, you could order blind at Mao Tai and always be assured of a fresh, imaginative and special dish. Things have changed.
Ironically, back then, although the bar was located in the centre of the room, the main draw was always the kitchen. In the refresh a couple of years ago, the bar was moved to a side area at the front of the room but, in spirit, it’s now at the heart of this operation, putting the kitchen firmly in its shade. The bar is the place with the atmosphere and the barmen are as skilled as they are friendly.
So, until Mao Tai gets its mojo back, our advice is stick to the cocktails.
Mao Tai, 58 New Kings Road, London SW6, Tel: +44 20 7731 2520
Mao Tai is past its prime
Many Chinese New Years ago, Saffy Girl and The Prodigal Fool used to enjoy the occasional dinner at Mao Tai together. These were special treats because Mao Tai has always been pricey but, back then, it used to be worth every penny. No longer. It’s still one of our locals and, truth be told, it’s […]
Our editor-in-chief, the self-proclaimed "greatest wit, raconteur and bon vivant of our age", borders on delusional. Over the years, the fool has squandered more money on fast cars, Swiss watches and electronic gadgetry of all kinds than he – or Mrs Fool – cares to remember. Come nightfall, he can invariably be found stumbling out of Dukes mumbling “just one more Martini; I could have handled just one mmmmm… [thud!]”
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