Opening in September 2013, Bo Lang is an upmarket Chinese restaurant specialising in dim sum. Its head Chef is Kai Wang, who has over ten years experience as a dim sum chef at Novikov and Grand Imperial at Grosvenor House. In Draycott Avenue, a short walk from Bibendum and Daphne’s, the restaurant has a small terrace for drinks, and a long, narrow dining room. The décor is tasteful, the tables reasonably spaced, and slightly over-loud trance music fills the room. There was complimentary wi-fi for customers.
The short wine list, with just two dozen wines ranging in price from £39 (yep, the house wine is £39) to £300, bizarrely omits vintages for all except a couple of champagnes. If I am going to pay a lot of money for a bottle of wine I want to know the vintage, so I had beer and tea instead. Example wines were Kloof Street Chenin Blanc at £42 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £14, Predator Zinfandel at £55 for a wine that retails at around £16, and Thienot rosé champagne at £90 compared to a shop price of about £40. Dom Perignon 2005 was £300 for a wine that will set you back about £140 to buy at a local Chelsea off-licence. Mineral water was £4.50 a bottle, beer £4.
Har gau (£6) was, oddly, drizzled with a blackberry reduction. The dumpling had reasonable texture and the prawn inside was cooked fine, but the fruit just seemed a distraction (12/20). Char siu (£5.50) buns had light, fluffy buns, but the pork filling inside was rather bland, and for me needed more seasoning (12/20). Soft-shell crab (£13) with chilli and lime avoided greasiness in the batter, though the crab flavour was a little lost (13/20).
For the main course, a distinctly small piece of line-caught sea bass (£24) was cooked well enough, topped with kow choi (chive) flowers and a mildly spiced sauce (12/20). Bak choi (£9.50) were distinctly overcooked, but were exchanged for a correctly cooked version without demur (12/20). The best dish was Singapore noodles (£10), which had particularly good texture to the noodles (14/20). A small dish of egg-fried rice was £9. Let that number just sink in a moment. At Royal China £3.50 buys you a huge bowl of very good rice several times the size of this one, and even the wildly expensive China Tang manages rice at £5, with Kai charging £5.50. At £9 I would expect the rice to be hand picked from the foothills of the Himalayas and carried to the table on a palanquin, but no: this was just a small (did I already say small, because it really was quite titchy) bowl of rice. Lunacy.
The service was generally good, though the dishes took a long time to appear and one plate of dim sum never did make it. The bill for this with pre-dinner drinks and a beer apiece was £73 a head. This is a ridiculous price for food of this standard. It is one thing for Hakkasan to charge quite a lot of money for their consistently superb food, but the dishes we tried at this meal were merely pleasant, generally below the quality served at Royal China, where the bill would be about half that here. Sure, Chelsea is not Bayswater, but the pricing here just felt to me like gouging. The £9 bowl of rice is the main memory that sticks with me of this meal.