This week William Sitwell relaxes in a ‘cheeky’ new dim sum. He enjoys a fresh Spanish white but isn’t too keen on the sake which reminds him of his granny’s floral bath essences
BO LANG IS a brand-spanking new, sexy little dim sum hangout in South Ken. There is nimble and neat seating by the bar – high stools and tall little tables – and wooden screens, with cut-out sections for a spot of spying, that divide the room nicely. It’s a very comfortable and chic place, it’s nifty, it’s snazzy and yes it’s pretty cheeky too.
Well lit – and there’s a beautiful line of candles that decks the entrance – it’s a place where you can just let the evening drift along just nicely thank you very much. The dishes are all pretty, beautiful even, and out they come at a good pace as you wolf down juice of the sweeter grapes, Riesling and the like; although we had some delicious, fresh and tasty Spanish white.
So out came those dishes, a crispy mango roll stuffed with prawns, the best dish of the night: a bowl of crispy Sichuan pepper squid (deep, loads of it, bits of chilli, soft squid, lots of crunchy bits), lobster dumpling soup that came in an exotic glass bowl with a long handle, spicy sea bass, some stir-fried beef in oyster and ginger sauce, fried aubergine with chilli and garlic.
We let the waiter take care of the menu to ease our stressy brains and give us the place’s highlights. And he did a good job too. We did also try some sake. I say try because there were three bottles on the menu. Two were fizzy so I went for the cold and still one. It had a peachy hue to it on the aftertaste. Not in a good way.
It felt a bit like bathing in your granny’s floral bath essence. A bottle of it came to £80 but there was no way I was going to drink my way through it. So back it went and out came another bottle of the Spanish wine.
Pudding was a ‘mochi selection’. This was dumplings filled with ice cream. ‘Would you like some dessert wine with it?’ asked the waiter.
Of course, we responded. So out came two fat glasses of port, which would have been great to go with some cheese in a high-ceilinged stalking lodge in Perthshire on a cold winter’s night. But it was a balmy September night in a funky dim dum hangout and we were eating ice cream cased in dumplings flavoured with the likes of green tea.
Still, it’s early days and maybe they can invest in some man’s sake and some nice girly pudding wine.
One Leicester Street
My other eating highlight of this week – in between a really good breakfast at Granger & Co on Westbourne Grove (I love the owner Bill’s green fruity drink of the day which fills you with earnest endeavour) and a fine dinner of lobster and vegetable thali at Indian Zing in Hammersmith – was lunch at One Leicester Street.
Pictured above: One Leicester Street
This is the Chinatown restaurant of the newly refurbished hotel of that name which was recently Fergus Henderson’s St John hotel. Today the bar no longer resembles an abandoned industrial kitchen (it’s very lush and lovely) but the restaurant feels quite unchanged. The best thing is that the chef and his staff are still there.
Tom Harris is a man who understands good food and the day I lunched there he was quietly enjoying his one Michelin star retention. I was reflecting, meanwhile, on how restaurants like his just about rescue the reputation of Michelin, albeit in a rather confusing way.
This, after all, was the day that Belgravia’s Ametsa with Arzac Instruction, where the food is as pointless as the restaurant’s name, gained a Michelin star. Quite why is baffling most critics, but let us dwell on the more joyful; the menu of Tom Harris.
I had crispy pig skin (like giant pork scratchings which crackled of their own accord) which I dipped into cod’s roe. I shall never be able to dip pork scratchings into taramasalata, this was so perfect. The roe, delicate, fishy, just the right texture, not over-smooth, you know.
Warming and wonderful
Then I had a middle-white pork chop which had the most beautiful sweet line of fat possible. It came with white beans cooked gently in chicken stock. They were creamy, warming, sweet and wonderful. Some escarole (chicory, to you and me) had been braised then popped on the grill for a little charring. And there was a dollop of his homemade mustard. It had a sort of humous texture and was a great invention.
I had a pudding too, a sort of caramel apple and nutty sandwich. Good but not as good as the pudding my pal ordered: plum and chamomile ice cream with toasted oats. Oh my God, this man can cook and so naturally and with flavourful style. Why this place was scattered with just me and a chef pal and about six others is beyond me.
Go there now, then go there often and tell your friends to go there too. You will leave very happy. And Tom Harris needs a greater celebrity, which he will if the food magazine I edit has its head screwed on the right way.