How would your significant other respond if you told them you were headed to Harrods after work on Friday, and they would be coming with you? Some lucky ladies and gents might have received an enthusiastic nod of agreement but nope, not me. I’d settle for a ‘yeah, sure’ shrug, but instead got the ‘you’re on your own there’ smirk. And people think I’m the harsh one.
A certain someone doesn’t like shopping, he doesn’t do crowds, so a combination of both with the added bonus of tourists walking way too slowly, would mean that going to any department store like Harrods would be pure torture. Even when administered by his beloved girlfriend, still torture. But what if she threw in the promise of freshly made sushi…?
Now he started listening. I added a guarantee of a beer or two and suddenly, a trip to the luxury shopping haven didn’t seem like such a chore anymore, the injustice far less great. Amazing how fickle some people can be eh? Now that I had managed to convince him to come with me, I had all my fingers crossed that Pan Chai would be worth forcing our way through the Harrod’s melee for, otherwise I would never, ever hear the end of it.
Thankfully, the restaurant is situated on the ground floor of Harrods so we only had to steer past the cosmetics (which don’t really interest me) and the handbags (which really interest me, when I’m not starving) before we arrived at the Food Hall and spotted the snug 22-seater sushi bar. We chose our seats, right in front of the chef because we like to see all the action, and before long had a beer and wine in hand while going through the menu.
It’s got all the usual suspects – a long list of sashimi and sushi options, a couple of tempura and salad dishes, some grilled items, and a handful of what can only be described as pan-Asian dishes. We steer away from these; if I wanted a bulgogi I’d go to Jinjuu and for a rendang it’d be a trip to Sambal Shiok. I’m sitting at a sushi bar, I want raw fish, and plenty of it, thanks very much. And Pan Chai sure did answer my wishes.
I’m always a fan of letting the chef choose our dishes because they should know a thing or two, and mainly because it’s well documented that I am a very indecisive orderer, so the Omakase Platter was an obvious choice. With nine pieces of sashimi, five nigiri, and a small maki roll of the chef’s choosing from whatever’s best that day, it’s the perfect option if you’re after some quick sustenance before heading back to your shopping.
Unfortunately, I knew my bank balance probably wouldn’t appreciate a shopping spree through Harrods so I drowned my sorrows with food. A negitoro maki of spicy tuna, mayonnaise, and spring onions topped with chopped tuna belly, and a tempura platter of soft shell crab, rock shrimp, and lobster, sure does wonders to one’s mood. Tempura doesn’t usually excite me but I’ll make an exception for crab and lobster, both coated in a spectacularly light batter.
The most surprising, in a good way, dish of our meal was the gently seared otoro with a ponzu soy dressing. Otoro is tuna belly, a part of the fish which is intensely marbled with fat. Good fat. Well, I can’t verify that in a health index, but on the tastiness scale it was very good indeed. Each slice tasted rich and almost beef steak-like, and as cliched as it sounds, it really did melt in our mouths. Who needs normal tuna anymore? Just kidding, I have enough love in my greedy heart for it all.
Our final hurrah was the Harrods Special of a fresh snow crab, avocado and spicy mayonnaise roll topped with chopped scallops, orange and black caviar, and spring onions. You didn’t imagine anything less decadent for their namesake roll, did you? Quite the dramatic entrance too, much like the Omakase Platter, all shrouded in smoke before the big reveal. The crab and avocado roll on its own might have been quite pleasant, light and creamy, but with the added bells and whistles of the caviar, scallops and drizzling of a fiercely flavoursome sauce, it was worthy of being a special.
Pan Chai did not fail me. Our stealthy weaving through the throngs of shoppers was rewarded, and I won’t have to hear a certain someone complain about that time I dragged him to Harrods for rubbish sushi for the rest of our days. Instead we can rant about that time we indulged in some exceedingly top quality sushi, which was pricey but pretty, while alternating between watching the chefs and watching tourists and serious shoppers alike wander through the Harrods Food Hall. Even a certain someone will admit that it’s not the worst way to spend a Friday evening!
Are you a fan of sushi? Have you ever shopped up a storm in Harrods?
Thanks to Pan Chai, in particular Cammy, Romeo, Edgar and the team, for helping us increase our daily intake of omega-3s and treating us to the best service, but as always, all opinions are mine and mine alone!