Monday, June 24, 2013

Red Pocket, Battersea - Fine Chinese dining a stunning sunset!

According to Chinese custom, the ‘Red Pocket’ is an envelope containing money which is given at weddings or on holidays and symbolises good luck.  Luck was most definitely on our side last Tuesday as my friend and I headed to the Red Pocket Chinese restaurant within the boutique Hotel Verta at Battersea.  It had been a warm and sunny day and would prove to be the most perfect setting to watch a stunning sunset against the backdrop of the Thames.

With a great riverside location, although slightly tricky to get to, Red Pocket is right next door to the London Heliport – great if you’re travelling by helicopter or

quite impressive to see them taking off and landing…  Equally as impressive is the restaurant itself – warm, inviting, contemporary and calming, huge yet intimate, stylish and modern.

I’d love to say we were shown to the table with the best view… but the truth is, with its’ huge glass windows, pretty much all of the tables have a truly fabulous view of the river and the London skyline.  There’s also outside seating for alfresco summer dining.

The restaurant offers lunch, dim sum high tea and dinner, with a set menu in the evenings between 5pm and 7pm.  We decided we’d go for the 3 courses for £30 set menu with a generous choice of 3 starters, 6 mains and 4 deserts. 

As the wine arrived, a gorgeous bottle of Viognier (my favourite - although there is a great selection of wines and cocktails on offer), we were also treated to a plate of appetisers which included sweet coated peanuts, cucumber and pickled veg - just the right amount to build up our appetite before the starters arrived.

For our first course, we opted for sweet sticky ribs and the chef’s signature Xiao Long Bao – 7 steamed mixed dumplings, each a different colour and filled individually with succulent crab and chicken along with a chilli oil and a tangerine vinegar.  The sauces perfectly complimented our dim sum, which were absolutely delicious.

For our mains, I ordered the beef fillet which came beautifully presented with a decorative crispy noodle basket – beautifully tender beef with rich intense flavours and a subtle hint of pepper.  We surmised that this was most definitely the best Chinese dish we had ever tasted… well that was until Sylwi’s roast chicken arrived!  Wow!  This dish blew us away…  Perfectly cooked chicken with a crisp, golden skin and a fragrant, sweet, flavourful sauce that we simply couldn’t get enough of!  Accompanied by some traditional pak choi (which was refreshingly light and acted almost as a palate cleanser) and bowlfuls of steaming rice, this on reflection has got to be in my top ten of best meals ever…

We leisurely picked at these dishes not wanting them to end, while taking in the most stunning sunset I’ve ever seen in London and tweeting photos of the food and views.

Having eaten so much of our mouth watering mains, there was little room for desert, but for the sake of review, we thought it best to try out a couple and we’re most definitely pleased we did!  We decided to go for the kiwi cheesecake first.  While it was delicate, light and refreshing, I would’ve preferred a biscuit base rather than sponge, and it maybe could have done with slightly more flavour, but the chocolate mousse was just something else!  Light and airy, perfect tasting chocolate, sweet but not overpowering and sooooo moreish!  Having previously been too full to even eat desert, we now found ourselves savouring every last mouthful and scraping the plate!

The man we have to thank for our amazing meal?!!  Chef Weng Kong Wong, who has also headed up the kitchen at the acclaimed Hakkasan in Mayfair.  His aim is to blend the best European ingredients with Eastern aromatic herbs, sauces and spices and I’d definitely say he’s achieved that.  My friend Sylwi also has an obsession with ‘open kitchens’ – she sees it as a sure indication that the food is going to be good and you can see exactly where your meal is coming from, so no surprises.  She was therefore delighted to find out that Red Pocket had huge glass windows so she could see Weng Kong Wong at work, while dinner was prepared in front of our very own eyes. 

So if you’re after top notch Chinese views, a gorgeous view, beautifully presented food and an ambient atmosphere, you’re most definitely ‘in luck’ at the Red Pocket.  I’d even go as far as to say it’s one of the most delicious Chinese meals I’ve ever had the good fortune to devour.

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