Review of 'Kai Mayfair'

It is our anniversary again so I am always looking around for where we can try next. With the date being so close to Christmas it is always tricky and this year it was even more complicated with the COVID restrictions as well. Looking around I found a few references to “Kai”, probably the best Chinese restaurant in London…and one of the most expensive. Given that it is a special occasion and likely to be our last year in London I decided to give it a go.

Reception Area (Near Bar)

“Kai” is located in the heart of Mayfair, just a few short streets away from one of our favourites, Le Gavroche. When we visited on a Monday evening, the Christmas lights were up in the area, and it was a bit drizzly. “Kai” is a small restaurant on the fairly busy South Audley street just south of Grosvenor Square. It consists of a ground floor and basement that you could easily miss if you were not looking out for it. We were early for our 7:30 reservation so waited in the small reception area near the bar while the maitre'd took a rather long phone call. We were shown to our table on the right side of the restaurant at the top of the stairs.


The interior is very modern with stylish chandeliers and a large aquarium. Our friendly waiter gave us a copy of the menus to have a look. We ordered from the a la carte but they do offer quite an interesting “Chinese Whispers Afternoon Tea” (£46) which I had booked last year but had to cancel due to COVID. After a statement of philosophy (Kai is the “home of Nanyang Chinese cooking since 1978”) the menu interestingly starts with desserts (all £15, or “Oprah's Contradiction” – a bit of everything – at £48) then “Starters” (£19-£23), “Appetisers” (£18-£29), “Soups” (“Hot & Sour” looks very good, £24, and “Chilean Sea Bass & Spicy Miso”, £24), “Duck” (various Peking duck options: £98 for two courses or “Aromatic Crispy Duck”, £70 whole/£38 half), “Main Courses” are divided into “Seafood” (£33-£68), “Meats” (£24 to £128 for Wagyu), “Japanese Wagyu” (“Gunma Wagyu”, 100g for £85), “Poultry” (£26/£28), “Vegetables” (£19/£20) and “Rice & Noodles”; then “Vegetarian” “Appetisers” (£17-£35), “Main Courses” (£26-£30), “Vegetables” and “Rice & Noodles”. We were told all of the dishes are served suitable for sharing, as is traditional with Chinese cuisine.

Wasabi Prawns

Having been told that the soup serving was quite small we balked at the price and went instead for a couple of appetisers. First up was the “Wasabi Prawns” (“Mild wasabi mayonnaise, mango & basil seeds”, £29) which was absolutely delightful with massive, juicy prawns in a very light, crispy coating then covered with a light wasabi mayonnaise.

Soft Shelled Crab

We also ordered the “Soft Shelled Crab” (“Chilli & shallots spiced batter, green mango.”, £19) which was perfectly cooked, again, with a light batter with the light salad of green mango and dressing. The crab was a good sized portion and absolutely delicious with none of the grizzly, not so tasty, bits you sometimes get with the dish.

18 Hour Pork Belly

For our mains we ordered the “18 Hour Slow-cooked Pork Belly” (“Marinated for 8 hour with five spice & garlic and slow cooked for 10 hours. Caramelised with soy, black vinegar & red wine and served with a light cucumber foam.”, £25) which was deliciously gelatinous with the slight salty hit of soy. The foam added nothing to the dish but it looked nice. The portion size was a bit small but quite tasty and very rich.

Lip Tingling Sea Bass in Warming Hot Pots

We also ordered the “Lip Tingling Sea Bass in Warming Hot Pots” (“A home style cold weather dish served with slices of Chinese cabbage, coriander, rich spicy soy broth and a mild hit of lip tingling Szechuan peppercorn paste.”, £36) which was absolutely delicious. Thankfully the sauce did not overwhelm the delicate flavour of the sea bass. There was a lot of sauce and I had to even order an additional serving of steamed rice (£5) to soak it all up, not wanting to leave any of it behind! Despite the name we found the spice had only a slight kick to it.


On the side we ordered the “Broccolini” (“Chopped garlic, shallot & lightly salted radish”, £19) from the “Vegetables” menu which were very much in the spirit of Chinese greens – Barely cooked, still crunchy, with a light dressing which was a nice break from the richness of the other mains.

Chocolate Grows on Trees

The portion sizes were good – not tiny and not massive – but we still had room for dessert. The options were all incredibly imaginative (and a relative bargain at £15 each) offering some very interesting mixtures of Chinese and English options. We settled on the “Chocolate Does Grow on Trees” (“Valrhona chocolate fondant, sesame macaroon ‘caps’, hazelnuts, praline ice-cream, chestnut paste. From a dream one night of a mythical forest where chocolate grows from the ground and where vegetables, fruit and all things healthy grow no larger than the tiniest sprigs.”) which was absolutely stunning looking – a small scene from a forest with various mushrooms formed of macaroons and chocolate cake stalks – It was also absolutely delicious if a bit one-note, that is, dark chocolate.

Snow Ball Fight

We also ordered the “Snow Ball Fight” (£15) which was a chocolate log with two scoops of citrus sorbet and a sugar (snow) ball filled with a wonderful powder which we could not quite identify. Bashing the snow ball was the joy of the dish but it was nice to have the contrasting flavours of the sorbet and chocolate. Though not quite as spectacular as the other dessert, this certainly had more interesting flavours.

Happy Anniversary

As a nice touch we were brought a generous plate of truffles and a written greeting from the restaurant regarding our anniversary.

The staff throughout our visit were very friendly and helpful, often stopping to have a chat and never hurrying us along. The dishes were brought out in good time without too much of an interlude in between. It all meant a feeling of pleasant relaxation, leaving us lots of time to talk to each other.

At £224.73 for the two of us including a 13.5% service charge and several drinks (alcoholic as well as “organic Wuyi Oolong” tea at £5.50) it was a bit on the pricey side but I have to say the dinner was sensational - Looked and tasted great in a lovely, intimate environment with very good service.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-12-20

Cuisine: Japanese

Address: 65 S Audley St, London W1K 2QU ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Marble Arch TUBE Hyde Park Corner

Location: London (England) - Mayfair



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Telephone: +4 (0) 20 7493 8988