Monday, July 25, 2016
Luxury Shopping and Dim Sum Feasting @ Mango Tree, Harrods
My best friend, Udita, moved to London earlier this year after graduating from UCL with a PhD in Neuroscience (she's a smart one) and I love having her nearby. One of our first outings when she arrived was dinner and drinks at Thai restaurant Mango Tree in Belgravia, so we couldn't resist trying its sister restaurant in Harrods Food Hall last week for comparison - complete with a bit of late-night shopping, of course.
Unlike the Belgravia location, which has a predominantly Thai-focused menu, the Harrods outpost of Mango Tree has a distinctive Chinese approach, with dim sum as its main feature. According to its website, all dim sum is freshly prepared each morning by a "Hong Kong dim sum master". The selection is also decidedly more upscale, with prices ranging from £9.30 for three pieces of prawn and chive dumplings to upwards of £32.00 for a grilled prawn curry. You can also tuck into luxurious dim sum options like steamed lobster and coriander dumplings or prawn dumplings with truffle oil.
The restaurant is located amidst the bustling Harrods Food Hall, with shoppers and tourists whizzing past and pausing occasionally to gawp at the ornate, stain-glass ceilings and otherworldly displays (like Bompas & Parr's jelly palaces, for example). The casual laid-back environment has its advantages, however - no reservations are necessary and you can watch your dim sum prepared for you before it's placed on the "bar" in front of you at eye-level. It's much easier to order a few small dishes to start before adding to your plate as and when you please.
Udita and I were eager to catch up about my upcoming trip to India (where she'll be as well), so we chatted animatedly at a million miles per hour (as we always do) while the staff politely waited for a pause to take our order.
On the restaurant's recommendation, we began with the crispy duck spring rolls, which I don't have very often but are a bit of a naughty treat when I'm eating out with friends. The spring rolls were served piping hot (so much so that I eagerly reached for it with my fingers, rather than my chopsticks which I regretted immediately when I had to drop it!) with a delightfully crispy outer shell. I skipped the sauce it came with and dipped it into the sweet chilli sauce instead, which was perfect.
As a bit of a dim sum addict (you should see my family's dim sum binges when we're in Vancouver), I went straight for the prawn and chive dumplings, plus the siu mai - both favorites of mine. I typically order those as a "test" for any dim sum restaurant I'm trying for the first time. My criteria? The wrapping must be thin and chewy in texture, but not too chewy and the prawns must taste fresh, not re-heated from frozen.
The dumplings at Mango Tree Harrods passed both tests with flying colors, though I really should have asked for some hot chilli oil to dip them in. Traditionally, we also dip dim sum like the prawn and chive dumplings and har gao into hot Chinese yellow mustard, and I think this would have worked really well with the dim sum we ordered that evening.
Between ordering something a little more "substantial" to fill our post-work bellies, I asked for a pot of flowering jasmine tea, as it goes hand-in-hand with dim sum feasting.
We watched the hand-tied bundle of dried petals and tea leaves unfurl in a beautiful glass pot before snapping up delectable pieces of grilled prawn in a spicy, red curry.
Still feeling a little "peckish", as they say on this side of the pond, we opted for the glazed black cod and a bowl of steamed rice, which arrived beautifully presented and wrapped in a banana leaf.
The sticky glaze was a little too sweet for Udita, but I dug into it with enthusiasm (probably since I have a sweet tooth). The meaty chunks fell apart as we cut into the fish and tasted lip-smackingly indulgent.
Finally sated, we enjoyed the remainder of our tea (which had been quietly refilled without us having to ask) and enjoyed the atmosphere as the number of shoppers dwindled down. We made the evening last by perusing some of the designer concessions upstairs before finally parting ways at Knightsbridge tube station.
I'd love to stop in to Mango Tree Harrods again for a treat - it'd make a terrific mid-shopping break.
Udita and I were guests of Mango Tree Harrods. All opinions are my own.