What: A reassuringly expensive Chinese-Japanese restaurant at the recently opened Four Seasons Hotel near The Tower of London. Run by the hotel, Mei Ume is adjacent to Anne-Sophie Pic’s La Dame de Pic and is positioned as an upmarket yet relatively casual restaurant.
Who: The Four Seasons has assembled an impressive team that have cooked in some of London’s most high profile Asian restaurants including head chef Tony Truong (Royal China) sushi chef Mun Seok Choi (Sake no Hana) and dim sum chef Liang Kian Cheng (Yauatcha).
The vibe: East meets west with a touch of Hakkasan. Hong Kong-based designer AB Concept has done a good job with the Grade II listed, high-ceilinged room, working around some awkward pillars to create a striking, glamorous space. The 48-cover dining room has a palette of bold reds and pinks and an eclectic selection of east Asian art and features including gilded paintings and embroidered silk screens.
The food: Despite its billing as a Chinese-Japanese restaurant Mei Ume is a Chinese restaurant with a sideline in sushi. The menu kicks of with Mei Ume’s £85 signature dish of whole Peking duck which comes with the expected trimmings of pancakes, hoisin sauce, cucumber and spring onion and then reappears later in the meal in the form of a zingy salad dressed with lemongrass and plum. Next up are small eats - including yellowtail carpaccio with truffle ponzu and Shanghai-style braised pork ribs with Chinkiang sauce - and a selection of dim sum platters. Mei Ume’s extensive selection of sushi takes pride of place in the middle of the menu while main dishes include sweet and sour Iberico pork and wok-fried beef fillet with black pepper sauce.
And another thing: Mei Ume isn’t a fusion restaurant. For the most part the Chinese and Japanese components on the menu are kept quite separate to the point where it’s difficult to see where the sushi fits in. But one area where the two cultures do meld is the cocktails, with a selection that includes the Azure Dragon of the East (Kavalan port wood finish, Sri Lankan lemongrass, sanshō pepper and cherry blossom).